Doirat utilise des bronzes abondants et de belle qualité, où les éléments traditionnels, comme les mascarons du temps de Louis XIV, les bustes de femme ou "espagnolettes", typiquement Régence (un de ses décors favoris), cohabitent avec des motifs d'avant-garde, de style rocaille. Il orne la face de certaines commodes à tiroirs sans traverse d'un large cartouche de bronze que reprendront la plupart de ses successeurs. En ce domaine, Doirat, avant même Cressent, se révèle un des grands créateurs des formules décoratives et techniques qui feront la gloire de l'ébénisterie parisienne sous le règne de Louis XV.
L’œuvre de Doirat, sans doute, abondante, n'est que partiellement connue. Il est probable qu'il n'a estampillé ses ouvrages que dans la dernière partie de sa carrière. Jean Dominique Augarde n'a recensé que trente-huit meubles portant son estampille et conteste certains autres qui lui étaient jusqu’alors attribués. Quelques meubles portent, à côté de l'estampille de Doirat, les lettres "L.S.P." de l’ébéniste Louis Simon Painsun, son gendre. Ce dernier semble avoir géré, rue Saint-Honoré, une boutique de meubles qu'avait louée Doirat. Il y vendait ses propres productions en même temps que celles de son beau-père. Ainsi s'explique la présence de leurs deux estampilles.
c. 1675 - 25 June 1732
Etienne Doirat has the distinction of being the only important ébéniste of the Régence who stamped his work, there being no stamped pieces by Cressent or Gaudreaus recorded. Thus the presence of a stamp facilitates the definition of a homogeneous output; this consisted almost entirely of commodes in palisander with trellis parquetry. Less frequently Doirat used amaranth and kingwood. The carcases of his furniture, generally fairly coarse, are in deal with walnut drawers. The repertory of gilt-bronze mounts is almost always identical, facilitating the attribution of a number of unstamped pieces: the same corner mounts in the form of wreathed female heads, festooned lambrequins and sphinx escutcheons and so on. The inventory taken after his death in 1732, published by M. Augarde, reveals that Doirat also produced types of furniture other than commodes: there are descriptions of bureaux plats, ebonized or in amaranth, bookcases with door-grills, bureaux called 'secrétaires' (secrétaires en pente) in amaranth, night-tables and encoignures, in all 200 varied pieces, finished or incomplete, of which 40 were veneered, including 21 in palisander, 11 in amaranth and four in kingwood. All the commodes either already had marble tops or were designed to take them, rather than marquetry tops.
The name of Gaudreaus appears among Doirat's debtors. He was certainly overburdened with commissions in his position of ébéniste to the Crown, and Doirat must have worked for him. Finally, the inventory reveals an interesting detail: '100 livres weight of imperfect lead casts used for garnitures for commodes and other pieces of furniture'... and then '250 livres of mounts, either chased or unchased, repaired for garnitures for commodes and other pieces'. Here is proof that Doirat kept exclusive control of his bronze casts, retaining not only the lead models but the unchased mounts and finished examples ready to be applied to the furniture. One is therefore on stronger ground when attributing certain pieces on the basis of the mounts. At the same time the inventory mentions only 'bronzes en couleur' (varnished) and not in gilt-bronze.
Doirat, born c. 1675, was married in 1704 while he was living in the Grand-Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine. He resided in this quarter all his life, settling in turn in the rue Saint-Marguerite in 1711, and the Grand-Rue again in about 1720, in a house under the sign of 'la Croix Rouge'. In 1726 he installed his workshop in the Cour de la Contrescarpe-des-Fossées-de-la-Bastille just within the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, in lodgings overlooking the trenches around the Bastille. His affairs would seem to have prospered, for in 1720 he provided his daughter Madeleine with a large dowry (2,500 livres). Moreover, in 1731 he leased premises in the rue Saint-Honoré opposite the church of Saint-Roch, in order, no doubt, to sell his furniture. This quarter was considered a fashionable address by financiers and all retailers of luxury goods were established here. In 1732 Doirat was certainly a fashionable ébéniste. The inventory made on his death describes numerous pieces of furniture either completed or under construction and stocks of wood, and at-least eleven work-benches.
His work was continued by his son-in-law, Louis-Simon Painsun (born 1700, died before 1748), who used the stamp L.S.P. Little is known of L.S.P.'s carreer: son of François Painsun, who was a master ébéniste living in the rue Saint-Nicolas in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine in 1727, Louis-Simon Painsun married Doirat's daughter in 1720 and probably worked with his father-in-law. On Doirat's death in 1732 Louis-Simon's father took over the lease and all the stock of Doirat's shop in the rue Saint-Honoré. It is likely that Louis-Simon took over the responsablity for the business.
"Le Mobilier Français du XVIIIème Siècle"
Les Éditions de l'Amateur - 1989
"Les Ébénistes français de Louis XIV à la Révolution"
Paris - 1989
"Etienne Doirat, Menuisier en ébène"
in The J. Paul Getty Journal
Édition J. Paul Getty Trust 1985
Volume 13, page 34, note 11