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 Antique Cabinets - Item 5132
Gothic Cabinet (Dressoir)

5132-gothic-cabinet

(scroll down for additional photos  -- difficulties of photographing with flash have accounted for the variation in hues, but the photo above most accurately reflects the color)
 

Item 5132

Gothic Cabinet or Argenterie

Dimensions

Width 45½, Height 79, Depth 13½(in inches)

Wood

Walnut

Country

France

Date

Circa 1900

Price

$3,295

Description

We love cabinets in this design, the dressoir, with their breadth and their assertiveness.  With a case for storage as the central part, there is display space above and occasionally that comes with a highly decorated back, such as this one has.  There is always display space below, comprised of the “pot-board” with decorative plis-de-serviette panels as the theme of the carving at the back.
In overall design, this dressoir is somewhat shorter in terms of the top of the case and the distance between the bottom of the case and the pot-board.
  The height of the top of the case gives this cabinet some resemblance to a dessert, the marble-topped cabinet used to display (and keep cool) desserts in the dining room, but this time with a much taller back.  Given the beauty of the Gothic fenestrage or tracery, the dressoir heritage remains intact but the dimensions make it more practical for modern dining practices.
What made this dressoir stand out for us was the beauty of the wood and the masterful carving.
  Most dressoirs we run across from the second half of the 19th century are made of oak, like their medieval forebears up until the late or flamboyant Gothic period).  And while the patina is unfailingly luscious, the carving is never as detailed and exquisite as when the cabinet is of walnut.  Less hard than oak, walnut lends itself to ornate and highly detailed carving that compels the eye to inspect every delicious detail.  This cabinet is a veritable banquet of tracery, including on the high back above the case and even on the sides which, in the spirit of time and money, were often left unadorned.
The tracery on the two doors of the cabinet is meant to be the focus of attention.
  Each is based on two broad arches in the S-shaped ogive design characteristic of the flamboyant Gothic, complete with stylized flame (from which the term flamboyant was derived) that has morphed into an oak leaf at the culmination of the arch.  Filling in the gaps between the tops of the arches is a combination of intricately carved mouchettes (elliptical designs) and abbreviated lancet arches.
An interesting enigma about this design is why the artist has placed three acorns inside each of the four arches on the front doors, just at the point where the sides of the arch swoop upward toward the pinnacle.
  Why the symbol of the oak tree on a cabinet made of walnut?  Other oak themes abound elsewhere (as mentioned in the previous paragraph) including the crocketing on either side of each ogive arch.
Another overall theme is the blossom or flower found in quatrefoils on the doors, just below the acorns, and uniting the tops of the lancet arches in the lower part of each ogive arch.
  A variation on this blossom-in-quatrefoil-above-lancet-arch theme provides the decoration for the back of the upper part of the cabinet and for the sides of the case.  The quatrefoil also plays a role in the decoration of the two drawers above the cabinet’s doors, echoed in the bands on the sides of the cabinet.
The top of the cabinet is crowned by rhythmic shapes of open tracery that is mimicked in the hardware adorning the top and bottom of the two doors.
  Finials in the form of pilasters complete the decoration of the case, and frame either side of the pair of doors.  Free-standing finials, complete with crocketing, stand like sentinels atop the back of the cabinet.
While less adorned, the lower part of the cabinet is no slouch.
  Intricately carved diagonal designs grace the pilasters forming the front support for the case.  Ornamenting the top corners of the pot-board are triangular shapes in open tracery.
The horizontal surface comprising the top of the case is a richly grained walnut.
  A circular mark and a small dark spot are shown in the photos below.  We maintain such evidences of use as is, leaving it up to the buyer to decide if they add character or if efforts should be made to alter them.
Over all, this is a magnificent example of the furniture maker’s zeal for Gothic decoration and a feast for the eyes both in terms of the magnificent carving and the rich patina of the walnut.
 

Reference

Ader-Tajan, 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); Viollet-le-Duc, Eugène, Le Mobilier Médiéval (Georges Bernage, editor) (Editions Heimdal, 2003).
 

Uses

This cabinet is an ideal piece for a dining room or kitchen.  With its rail on the top for displaying plates (but, please don’t obscure the fenestrage!) and the pot-board below for vases and bowls, it is ideal for showing off collections while also providing a horizontal surface for dishes from which guests can help themselves and get a closer look at the magnificent walnut and the carving.
 

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