Emmanuel-Alfred Beurdeley was a collector who came from a family of cabinetmakers, antique dealers and collectors. He was the illegitimate son of Louis-Auguste-Alfred Beurdeley (1808–82). His grandfather, Jean Beurdeley (1772–1853), who served in Napoleon’s army, opened a small antique shop in the Marais district of Paris. In 1830 he bought the Pavillon de Hanovre, 28 Boulevard des Italiens, which became the Beurdeley firm’s principal gallery until 1894. L.-A.-A. Beurdeley dealt in antiques and works of art and was also a cabinetmaker specializing in reproductions of seventeenth and eighteenth century furniture. His clients included Napoleon III and the Empress Eugénie.
In 1875 E.-A. Beurdeley took over his family's gallery and workshops and until 1894 concentrated on continuing the line of luxury furniture sold by his father. He was one of the most important Parisian cabinetmakers, and won a gold medal at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1878. He was appointed Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur in 1893 following the Universal Exhibition in Amsterdam.
In 1895 he closed the Pavillon de Hanovre and retired to his hôtel in the Rue de Clichy. The rest of his life was spent acquiring and selling enormous collections of furniture, Chinese porcelain, paintings and drawings, including an extraordinary group of eighteenth century French drawings by François Boucher, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Nicolas Lancret and Antoine Watteau in 1905. He also owned JW's La Dormeuse (M.869). At his death he bequeathed 25,000 francs to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. His collections filled twenty sale catalogues.
Lugt, Frits, Les marques de collections de dessins et d'estampes: marques estampillèes et écrites de collections particulières et publiques; marques de marchands, de monteurs et d'imprimeurs; etc..., Amsterdam, 1921, no. 421; Dorival, B., ‘De la tabletterie à la collection d’oeuvres d’art: La “saga” Monneret, S., L'Impressionisme et son époque, Paris, 1978-79; Beurdeley (1814–1919)’, Bulletin de la Société de l'histoire de l'art français, 1989, pp. 191–239; 'Beurdeley', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, http://www.groveart.com (accessed 24 July 2002).