Rare half-moon-shaped chest of drawers in marquetry of exotic woods (amaranth, rosewood, boxwood, sycamore), engraved and stained wood (green-tinted and blue-tinted sycamore) and ivory.
It opens with three drawers, two of which have no crossbar on the front and two side doors.
The drawers and doors decorated with paintings in precious wood marquetry in rosewood frames.
They depict landscapes of ancient ruins, with temples, colonnades and figures with engraved ivory faces contemplating statues of Roman deities like Janus, Hercules, etc.
The amaranth veneer uprights rest on canted legs.
Very beautiful ornamentation of original bronzes including frames with interlacing friezes, twisted nets, bands with Greek friezes, openwork protective grilles with frieze of ovates and lily of the valley flowers, falls with the attributes of the theater and music, slippers, medallion entries…
Original white Carrara marble top.
Very bright marquetry with natural shades that are still very fresh.
Very good state of conservation; small usual restorations to the marquetry.
The right rear pillar stamped A.L GILBERT and JME.
Parisian work from the Louis XVI period around 1780 by André Louis Gilbert.
Width: 128cm; Height: 86 cm; Depth: 56 cm
Our opinion :
The neoclassical movement will develop in France from the 1760s, it will take on more and more importance over the course of the excavations of major sites such as Herculaneum and its famous villa of papyrus which in 1754 delivered numerous parchments but also busts philosophers, athletes…
The existence of a perfectly structured and very cultured ancient society will lead to an important awareness of the very ephemeral nature of human life.
From then on it will be in good taste to come and take “the grand tour” to admire these remains and bring back a souvenir such as a bronze, a column or a simple view of these ruins which recalls these disappeared societies.
It is in this context of discovery and reflection that the fashion for ancient ruins will be born in Europe, with English, Swedish, German painters... who will specialize in these bucolic views.
France did not escape this fashion and even offered one of the greatest representatives with the painter Hubert Robert (1703-1708) who was nicknamed “Robert des Ruines”.
France, which is the home of cabinetmaking, will develop a unique technique by adapting this fashion to marquetry.
If several craftsmen tried their hand at the technique, André Louis Gilbert was the undisputed master for this type of marquetry, to the point that in old inventories, this type of chest of drawers decorated with ancient ruins was simply called "A Gilbert chest of drawers".
If today this stamp is highly prized by the restricted circle of connoisseurs, its reputation went far beyond the borders of the kingdom during its lifetime.
Our cabinetmaker will be inspired by the productions of the painter Hubert Robert, and to obtain maximum precision and a colorful rendering, he will use finely engraved and above all tinted wood, notably in green, using a process today now forgotten.
The soft tones and nuances of these plant colors give this production an inimitable rendering as well as a relative modernity, also accentuated by the purity of the lines and the contrast of the precious woods which frame these real wooden paintings.
Our chest of drawers represents the quintessence of this fashion.
The half-moon shape, the richness and quantity of the bronzes used and the presence of ivory are all proof of quality which mark the peak of André Louis Gilbert's production.
Only two other chests of drawers of this quality are known today.
*André-Louis GILBERT is a notable cabinetmaker, born in Paris in 1746 and died in this city on April 3, 1809.
At the age of twenty-three, as a worker at Noël Malle, he was guilty of an act of indelicacy and had to join the watch guard to avoid prison. After obtaining his leave, he received letters of mastery on July 20, 1774, and first established himself on rue Traversière. In 1785, we found it in the Grande rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, “at the corner of that of Charonne”. His workshop was in full prosperity when the Revolution broke out. Although he had nothing to gain from the triumph of "subversive ideas", Gilbert seems to have adopted them with enthusiasm and was one of the Victors of the Bastille. He then returned to service in the company of hunters organized by the future General Hulin, moved in 1792 to the 35th gendarmerie division, the following year became an officer in the police legion, then was appointed lieutenant following the 59th demi -brigade in December 1799.