Antique Cabinets - Item 3232
Gothic Cabinet with Knights
down for additional photos)
||Gothic Cabinet with Knights in Niches
||Width 32, Height 91, Depth 18 (in inches)
This is one of the most remarkable
Gothic cabinets we have ever encountered, in terms of
overall design, artistry of execution and condition
of preservation. It is a cornucopia of Gothic
design, including features borrowed from architecture
such as spires, columns and the tiered structure. But
it also includes favorites from the world of painting
and sculpture such as the five knights in niches forming
the central portion of the cabinet, the central knight
on horseback, and the animated figure of a man (head
and shoulders), peering over the top of the cabinet.
This figure is mounted separately and therefore
the cabinet can be displayed with or without it. His
role or purpose remains an enigma -- could he be one
of the knights without his armor? It is unlikely
that a 19th century craftsman would indulge himself
in the conceit of putting himself in his masterpiece,
but perhaps it is the person who commissioned the piece?
A bit menacing, a bit playful -- either way, this
figure beckons us to imagine his role and to marvel
at the virtuosity of the carving. Each
of the knights wears a different uniform and has a slightly
different stance, reminiscent of the saints flanking
the doors of Gothic cathedrals or even the Renaissance
church of Orsanmichele in Florence whose outer walls
include niches populated with sculpted figures.
The late Gothic into early Renaissance influence is also
seen in the portraits on either side of the central
drawer which are in profile and in the shape of medallions.
Perhaps these were meant to depict the persons
who commissioned the piece. Particularly interesting
and Gothic are the dragons at either side of the top,
crouched as if poised to pounce on the figure peering
over the top. Above the central door, with the
knight on horseback is the traditional Gothic element
of the small, hooded head with prominent features, seen
on other pieces such as the Gothic bench 5202.
Uniting the entire piece are linen-fold panels
in the top and bottom as well as forming the side panels.
All of these aspects and especially the mixture
of Gothic and Renaissance elements mean that it can
also fall into the classification used by the French
for 19th century furniture in Gothic Revival or Renaissance
Revival styles -- Henri II. For sheer exuberance of decoration, this piece
is incomparable and a reminder of why the antiques business
is one of constant discovery and endless appreciation
for the work of master craftsmen.
Collection Bruno Perrier Haute Epoque (Catalog for Sale at Auction on April 6,
1992 at the Hôtel Drouot, Paris); Boccador,
Jacqueline, Le Mobilier Français du Moyen Age à la Renaissance, (Editions
d’Art Monelle Hayot, Saint-Just-en-Chaussée, 1988); Thirion, Jacques, Le Mobilier du Moyen Age et de la Renaissance en France (Editions Faton, Dijon, 1998)
This cabinet, whether displayed
with or without the figure poised atop it, would be
the center of attention in any room. Because of
the exuberance of decoration, it would also blend well
with pieces described as Louis XIII or even Victorian.