imposing Gothic buffet cabinet was once part of a dining room set with the
other items numbered 5112. It is
unusually tall, crowned by a large finial with a flourish of oak leaves,
symbolic of the wood from which it is made and whose intricate carving is some
of the loveliest and distinctive we have seen.
Forlovers of furniture celebrating the fenestrage or tracery used in the
decoration of medieval buildings, this piece is, literally, over the top -
taller than any we have offered and topped by a curved canopy as the base for a
crown of open tracery and finials.
Inoverall design, this cabinet does not follow the usual format. Instead of a large case filling the entire
upper space, such as 4117 or 4185, this cabinet has a small case, set back from
the front plane but descending into the central area so that the bottom part of
this small case is framed by two drawers with open space above them. On either side of the case and forming part
of the back panel of the cabinet are two magnificent fenestrage panels
combining sets of four lancet arches, in pairs within pointed arches encased
within rounded arches. The center of
each of these panels is a variation on the soufflet (quatrefoil with opposite
pointed ends) that is broad and encloses sweeping, crocketed shapes based on
mouchettes (a shape based on a candle snuffer), on the left, and quatrefoils,
on the right. Atop these central
soufflets and four pairs of shorter lancet arches on either side of a fleuron
in the Flamboyant Gothic style (referring to the flame-shaped ornament used to
crown the ogee or graceful "S" curve found in late Gothic
Thissame element is repeated in the doors of the small case in this upper section
of the cabinet. Also repeated are the
lancet arches in the lower and upper parts of the panel but with the elongated
soufflet surrounding crocketed circles - again, not identical but rather
variations on a theme.
Atopthis small case are the paired hounds that we find so endearing. The dogs, approximately 7 inches tall, are
seated on their haunches, on square "cushions" at the corners of the
case. Above eye level of most viewers
of the cabinet, looking outward and slightly upward with the mouths open, it is
as if they are warning us about opening the cabinet on which they sit. While not identifiable as any particular
breed, they are sculpted with anatomical accuracy and toes curling over the
front of their "cushions."
Themiddle section of the cabinet is hexagonal in shape with two door panels for
the opening of the cabinet and two elaborately carved panels at angles,
comprising the sides of the cabinet.
Again, the design is "flamboyant" with central ogive arches
terminating in the stylized fleur-de-lys.
That these side panels are unique tracery designs, instead of the more
common plis-de-serviette motif, is one of a number of factors leading us to
believe that this cabinet was a commission - probably from a dog lover. The side panels are separated from the front
doors of the cabinet by elaborate crocketed finials of the type incorporated
into the spires of Gothic buildings.
Thebottom portion of the cabinet is a traditional pot-board or open shelf with
columns supporting the central section of the cabinet. The shape of the potboard is hexagonal,
tracing the outlines of the central section of the cabinet.
Eventhe hardware conforms to the Gothic theme.
The hinges are long and slender, with crocketing and ending in a
circle. These same motifs are mimicked
in the key escutcheons. The two drawer pulls are in a four-pointed, highly decorative
design with handles in the shapes of oval torsades. The elaborate hardware is the perfect complement to the elaborate
carving of the doors and panels.
In great condition, with all its parts
cabinet is a feast of Gothic design and evidently created for a lover of the
motifs that make this one of the loveliest and largest examples of cabinets
evoking this style. We would like to
think that some inspiration was drawn from the series of 15th century
illuminated manuscripts in the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal in Paris depicting
scenes from the wedding of Renaud de Montauban. In the last picture at the bottom, the famous scene of the
wedding feast reflects a tall, canopied buffet cabinet and a dog, similar to
the one on this cabinet, takes center
stage as he follows the platter of meat. In
the miniature, furniture has pride of place, covered in textiles to show off
the family silver (or possibly wedding gifts).
This buffet cabinet follows in such a grand tradition, right down to