Large sideboard with curved wooden top in solid mahogany from Cuba, molded and richly carved.
The large sideboard or "bas d'armoire" as it was called in the 18th century is not very common in Bordeaux and probably even less so in La Rochelle because it is almost always the cupboard that is used as a display piece, unlike in Nantes where sideboards and enfilades were more common. However, to furnish the private mansions of wealthy merchants or shipowners, and to serve as a showpiece, rare sideboards such as this one were made. These are of course commissioned pieces of furniture, and in the case of this piece in particular, its aristocratic origin is inferred both by its quality and its dimensions. No other sideboard of this model in mahogany is known to us, except for a sideboard from Bordeaux in our old collections. Moreover, only a few rare examples from the North of France, from Boulogne or Dunkerque, remind us of it.
It should be noted that these are covered with a marble and indeed it is very rare to find such a sideboard with a wooden top (which is to be seen as a quality for a piece of port furniture made of mahogany from Cuba) and it is moreover fortunate that its top has not been replaced by a marble during later periods (notably the Napoleon III period during which so many port chests of drawers saw their top sacrificed to the fashion of marbles). Let us also point out, because it is of great importance, that this sideboard was born as it is, and that it is in no way a double-body bottom, this being formally attested by the absence of marks on its top (which has never been sanded. And because of the weight of this sideboard, it is certain that the presence of an upper body would have left deep and indelible marks).
Even if we cannot reject some similarities with the furniture from Nantes, the Bordeaux influence is obvious on this piece of furniture, so much so that it could indeed be attributed to Bordeaux, if not for a detail (which is not negligible). Indeed, one will never see brass fittings in Bordeaux, they are exclusively in iron on the cabinets and sideboards. In La Rochelle, on the contrary, brass and iron are used in turn.
This piece of furniture, built in solid mahogany (top, entire front and sides, except for the rear uprights in elm tinted with mahogany), opens with two large curved leaves, one of which is a false door.
We are dealing with what is called a rich piece of furniture, but also a piece of furniture of great quality whose manufacture can undoubtedly be attributed to a cabinetmaker:
- It is generously curved on the front but also on the sides.
- Its Cuban mahogany is ragged, with a fine and tight grain, its patina, cherry-red or dark ruby, is dazzling.
- Its moldings, with a large frame (except for the one on the top of course, as well as the two reserves on the top rail), are multiple and very thick.
- The sculpture that animates it is finely executed and very clear.
- Its feet at the front, but also at the back, are carved with elegant volutes (feet called snails).
- Its construction is of a remarkable finish, with very thick mahogany sections, the lower crosspiece taken from a 9 cm section, the top molded with a beak in two boards with two side rails (the latter mounted with offset mitre cut, a clever cut that does not cut the edge of the top) with a thickness of 22 mm, the doors are 35 mm thick and each one weighs nearly 7 kg! (you have to have one in your hand to realize it, and it is the left door, the one that carries the false frame, and not the one that carries the huge lock, that is the heaviest).
- Its brass trimmings, keyways and plugs are of the finest quality. And what about its iron lock and key...
- The back, shelf and floor are made of high quality oak.
This piece of furniture takes up the first function of the hunting buffets, it is a buffet of presentation for the silver and porcelain dishes. A true piece of great luxury and exception, it is part of the golden age of port furniture on the Atlantic coast, in the period known as "Parisian", when from the beginning of the 18th century, in this great port in full prosperity, the best cabinetmakers (and sculptors, some from Bordeaux, others even from Provence), sought to match Parisian furniture by adorning their beautiful mahogany pieces with sumptuous Regency or rocailleuse sculptures.
This full Louis XV period model, very probably unique, takes on the appearance of a commissioned piece of furniture made for a rich shipowner.
Very nice original condition, superb finish in filled wax.
La Rochelle, mid 18th century.
Dimensions: 0.92 m high x 1.66 m wide (1.51 m in front)
x 0.65 m deep (at the tip of the overhanging tray).
11 000 €
Price : on request