PERIOD : 1st RENAISSANCE, DATED 1544
ORIGN : BURGANDY-FLEMMISH
This Renaissance cupboard presents a drawer in its belt and a central door-leave in its upper body.
The drawer rests on two strong curved columns standing on a moulded base. Two carved profiles, one male and the other female, gaze at each other. These two medallions are framed by vegetal scrolls.
Two identical columns support the dentil cornice and frame the central door-leave. The central panel is carved with a vegetal motif from which blossom flowers while the two lateral panels show a vertical foliated stem. The iron work of the hinges is very delicate in its design.
The cupboard’s ornaments and structure are typical of the first half of the 16th century. The year 1544 inscribed on the cupboard supports this dating.
The period going approximately from 1490 to 1530, called Première Renaissance (First Renaissance) by the French is marked by rapid changes in all arts. Although Italian influence can be traced as soon as the second half of the 15th century, it is not before the reign of Louis XII that it really appears in French art. Furthermore, from 1515 onward, king François Ier allow this Italian taste to thrive with a strong patronage. This italianisme is not denied to the cabinetmaking industry and soon it undergoes radical changes too.
During the early 16th century the cabinet’s structure remains Gothic but is enriched by a carved decor on its panels. Vegetal compositions, scrolls and arabesques are treated with symmetry in an Italian manner. On sideboards, chests and cupboards this decor is accompanied by profiles and busts, inscribed within medallions. This details suggest matrimony and these figures must be seen as portraits of the newlyweds and their ancestors. Emulating coins, medals and antic cameos these medallions are ornaments characteristic of the French Première Renaissance. Such a decor, carved on precious pieces of furniture, stressed out the taste and modernity of its owner.
This cupboard, with its strong and short structure, still shows a Gothic spirit upon which is applied an Italian vegetal decor. Treated in a light and free design, this flora is no longer Medieval and contrasts with the stern shredded Gothic leaves. The two profiles are precisely carved, far from the humble depictions of previous decades. Consequently this cupboard really belong to the mid-16th century, when cabinetmakers have assimilated this new vocabulary and use it with true skills.
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