Offered by Antiquités Philippe Glédel
18th Furniture, country french furniture
Exceptional Régence style wedding cabinet or Armoire from Rennes in cherry wood very richly carved. It is signed and dated :
"BY CHARLES CROIZÉ THE YEAR 1801 OR THE YEAR TEN OF THE REP"
Work of the country of Rennes.
This cabinet is a sculptor's piece of furniture, and is not the first to come, far from it:
- First of all, it belongs to the golden age of Rennes furniture, a short and flourishing period of transition between Louis XIV and Louis XV style furniture which goes from the end of the XVIIIth century until the very first years of the XIXth century, During this period, the hieratic three-panel cabinets with straight legs of the Louis XIV type saw their uprights become more rounded, their legs more curved, their sculptures more abundant, and the first two-panel cabinets with curved and sculpted ornamentation always inspired by the repertoire known as "à la Bérain" appeared.
- Moreover, we had underlined, within the framework of the description of a cupboard signed Depouez, that Rennes cupboards are relatively many and of all kinds, so many carpenters were active in the country of Rennes (not all truly professional, but for many simple amateurs making at lower costs), and in truth it is necessary to understand that it is less than ten sculptors per generation who will have made the most interesting models... Our cabinet is the work of the greatest sculptor of the Rennes region, Charles Croizé (1746-1814), carpenter and sculptor at L'Hermitage and then at Saint-Gilles. There is a certain correspondence between the Croizés in Brittany and the Haches in Dauphiné (all things considered, of course), and paraphrasing Edith Mannoni speaking of Thomas Hache, we could say: there was an important corporation of carpenters in the Rennes region, including the famous Allory and Tullou. But from 1800, nobody can follow Charles Croizé anymore. The Croizé family is a dynasty that stretches over three generations, and like the Hache family, they used the finest woods in the region, they made the most elaborate furniture, but above all they were innovative and, we might add, the greatest inventors, leading the others in their wake. Charles Croizé is therefore in a way the Thomas Hache of Rennes furniture, and without a doubt he, and his sons after him, made the most dazzling furniture ever seen in Brittany. You can refer to our presentation on the Croizé family on our site in which this cabinet appears:
Finally, this Charles Croizé cabinet is undoubtedly the most remarkable one we know, and therefore it goes without saying that we consider it to be one of the most exceptional cabinets in Rennes. If we had to draw up a podium, we would logically place it in the "top 3", between a cabinet by Jean-Charles Croizé (his own eldest son), the only one that can probably claim to take the "supreme title" from him [Collection des Musées de Rennes], and another by François Allory (his nephew, whom he himself helped to form) - [Collection US].
Any classification remains subjective, but nevertheless our passion for the cabinets of the country of Rennes has led us to buy more than a hundred of them and undoubtedly to have seen nearly a thousand of them, and it is thus in full knowledge of the subject that we designate this one as a pure masterpiece of the furniture of Upper Brittany.
Our cabinet is thus in the attached document framed by the famous cabinet of the museum of Rennes and by a cabinet sold in 1984 at Ader Picard Tajan at Drouot (101.000 francs excluding expenses and let us correct: Cherry wood cabinet. Work of the country of Rennes from the early 19th century). It should be noted that these two models have their almost twin (but of a very slightly lower quality): a cabinet signed Croizé dated 1825 [from a private collection in Rennes] and a cabinet signed Allory dated 1807 [from our private collection].
We are not going to enumerate here all the elements that make up this sumptuous ornamentation, (we would still be there tomorrow), nor the qualities of the sculptor (please refer to our presentation on the Croizé), let us limit ourselves to stating what is new, because this cabinet is undoubtedly innovative and must have left its mark on people's minds, which is undoubtedly why, without even having a photograph of it, the authors of the earliest publications did not fail to mention it:
First of all, the cornice pediment with gallery, openwork, that we had seen on a sideboard of 1815 of our old collections by the sculptor Jean Rouge de Cintré, then on the cupboards of 1824 and 1825 of Charles Croizé II mentioned (no other I believe brought to our knowledge), appears here on a double hanger cupboard for the very first time, and we reasonably think that Charles Croizé is simply the inventor. However, let us specify that in 1801, if he is 55 years old, his eldest son is 26 years old (which is not far from the age of full maturity for a sculptor, especially when he has the gifts that we know him to have) and this leads us to hypothesize that this cabinet is probably the result of a collaboration between father and son (to take up our comparison with the cabinetmakers of Grenoble, like Pierre Hache, Jean-Charles Croizé will have waited a long time before becoming the master of the Croizé workshop, because his father will remain there until the age of 67 years). Let us add that on many points the cabinet of Charles Croizé II of the museum of Rennes refers to our cabinet of 1801 (the resumption of the molded frame on the thick uprights is besides almost an archaism in 1824).
On the other hand, if many elements of the decoration are quite specific to the usual ornamentation of Charles Croizé I (shells on the doors, wreaths of flowers...), in addition to this formidable pediment, some elements sculpted on this cabinet bring us back to the repertoire of Charles Croizé II (large gadrooned shells on the lower crosspiece which are to be seen as among his most characteristic decorations to come).
Moreover, if the quality of the lock equipped with a cremone bolt is of a luxury not usual in the country of Rennes, the excellent quality brass fittings (larder plugs and lock entries that compose it) is totally avant-garde because indeed, except for the case of occasional installation of lock entries imported from Saint-Malo, one never meets such original brass fittings (and absolutely never for the larder plugs) before 1815.
Condition : Very good original condition of the set, minor restorations of use, this piece of furniture has been the subject of a particularly thorough restoration.