M. Markley Antiques
Antique Cabinets - Item 4154B
Gothic Dressoir Cabinet (Pair with 4154A)
down for additional photos)
||Gothic Dressoir Cabinet with Fenestrage or
48; Height 65½; Depth 21¾ (in inches)
Gothic style cabinet, and its near twin (4154A) 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. Unlike 4154A, the three doors are similar in design, incorporating the
fleur-de-lys and a heart on the left and right while the central door exhibits
the same overall structure but lacking the fleur-de-lys and heart motifs.
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
four panels at the back of the pot board are a traditional linen-fold (plis-de
serviette) design, exhibiting the key distinction from Cabinet 4154A whose
linen-fold panels are highly stylized.
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 #4154A 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.