M. Markley Antiques
Antique Cabinets - Item 4154A
Gothic Dressoir Cabinet (Pair with 4154B)
down for additional photos)
||Gothic Dressoir Cabinet with Fenestrage or
48; Height 65½; Depth 21¾ (in inches)
Gothic style cabinet, and its near twin (4154b) represent the height of 19th
century enthusiasm for Gothic design focused on architectural elements evoking
cathedrals and their stained glass windows.
Cabinets of this type, known as dressoirs derive from the medieval
practice of making a cabinet by mounting a chest on legs, or on a table, and
adding a shelf below, known as a pot board.
As the dressoir evolved into a single piece of furniture, with drawers
added below the case, it took on many subtle variations such as in the number
of doors and the addition of a decorative panel between them.
fenestrage (from the French word fenêtre, meaning window) carving on the three
doors of this cabinet is remarkable for it virtuosity and vitality, as well as
its extraordinary detail and excellent condition. Fenestrage in Gothic furniture
mimics the window patterns in cathedrals with their pointed arches and rosace
designs. The left door includes a fleur-de-lys and the left and right doors
feature traditionally carved heart patterns, suggesting the love of family
members for each other, and their relationship with a loving God while
generations of the same family gathered in the dining room.
not stemming from the architecture of Gothic cathedrals, the fleur-de-lys was a
popular motif in Gothic furniture symbolic of the Holy Trinity, frequently
hidden within the intricacy of the fenestrage or displayed prominently as in
the left and right doors of this cabinet.
cabinet has 3 doors on the front with each panel being carved differently Each
door is 11 1/4" x 20 1/8", and inside each doored compartment is
17" deep, 13" wide and 20" high. Each door has its original iron
hinges and key escutcheon, but only the right hand door has a functioning lock
and key, the other locks, long lost.
sides of the top are carved linen fold (plis-de-serviette) panels, and acting
as corbels are multiple rosettes that appear to support the very top and the
box structure of the top as well. Extending downward from the top structure are
what resemble the tops of Gothic arches, that are carved so that where they
meet, they become fleurs-de-lys. Many
of these were broken, but not missing, when we bought the piece, but after
many hours of work have yielded a beautiful
restoration of this exceptional detail.
are two eight-sided columns supporting the top and there are finely detailed
chain carvings up three of the sides and a kind of overlapping scale pattern
(entrelacs) up two more of the sides. Only the back three sides have no
panels at the back of the pot board depict a rare variation of the linen-fold
(plis-de serviette) design used exclusively in northeastern France
(Flanders). Each panel includes Gothic
arches at top (inverted) and bottom with stylized leaves of ivy emanating from
central shape. Symbolic of rebirth and eternal life, the ivy is another design
motif that the 19th century creators and users of this furniture would have
understood and enjoyed. It is possible
that these panels are much older, from another piece of furniture, but integrated artfully into this cabinet. The
panels on the ends, additionally have carvings of what appear to be crossed
hoes, along with other unrecognizable utensils or symbols. Perhaps these symbols relate to the
occupation of the person who commissioned the piece or the area where the
panels were carved.
in originals from the Gothic period, this cabinet has yet more fenestrage
covering the bottom apron near the floor.
The quatrefoils differ from those used elsewhere on the piece and are
set within a pleasing, undulating framework.
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);
Viollet-le-Duc, Eugène, Le Mobilier Médiéval (Georges Bernage, editor)
(Editions Heimdal, 2003)
cabinet and its very similar #4154B are beautiful in every way, including carving
quality, condition, color and size that would be an extraordinary addition to
any area deserving exuberance and style, such as an office, living room or
dining room. Useful for storage out of sight, in the top, the cabinet's pot
board is an ideal place for a trophies, whether athletic or decorative.