made in France in the Gothic style and over 100 years old are hard to find, but
in walnut, intact, and a set of 6?
Almost impossible. Most likely,
these chairs once comprised a set of 12, the most common multiple from a time
when dining rooms were grand and tables accommodated larger groups than today's
typical dinner party. Being highly
portable, chairs were easily separated from their cohorts whether at the time
of the owner's demise and a divvying up among heirs, or destruction during the
conflicts involving France. So a
beautifully preserved set of six is a treat to behold.
Walnut chairs andGothic design are the ideal pairing because of the ability to carve more
intricately the details of tracery or fenestrage characteristic of Gothic
architecture. Oak, harder by far and the
more common material in both the Middle Ages and the 19th century revival of
Gothic design in France, does not lend itself to the subtleties of expression
we find in walnut.
All of thesechairs have unique designs for the back.
Although Chairs 2 and 6, below, are similar they are not identical. All share lancet arches at the base above
which variations on a theme of quatrefoils, ellipses, and other standard shapes
(mouchettes, fleurettes, and soufflets) abound.
Two of the chairs (2 and 3, below) have a pattern called an entrelacs
running from top to bottom on either side of the backs' central panel. The carving on each chair is magnificent,
enhanced by the rich patina of the walnut from which it is carved.
The unifyingelement for the set is found in the top of each chair where a wide ogive arch
frames open tracery. Alternating shapes
based on the standard vocabulary of quatrefoil, mouchette and soufflet populate
the interior of the arch which is topped by crocketing leading to a central
toupie in the shape of a fleur-de-lys.
Virtuoso carvingthroughout makes these chairs masterpieces of the Gothic style even beyond the
seat backs. For example, the base of
each chair includes an "H" shaped stretcher and front support columns carved in
the diagonal, spiral motif used on columns in Gothic cathedrals to symbolize eternal
construction has served them well and, as with all the chairs we offer, they are intact and ready for more years of use and enjoyment.
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,