Offered by Galerie Gabrielle Laroche
Haute Epoque Fine Art
A real piece of furniture, this cabinet with two bodies opens with two historiated panels and two drawers in the upper part and two leaves and two drawers in the lower part.
Richly worked, it offers on the outside as well as on the inside a floral decoration, finely engraved, which contrasts with the importance given to geometrical lines. This duality, typical of this type of cabinet, confirms its dating and origin.
Moreover, the gilded metal locks and fittings enhance the sumptuous character of this piece of furniture and also participate in its ornamentation.
The appearance of cabinets in the 16th century accompanied the development of wunderkammern, cabinets of curiosities enriched both by the vogue for antiques and by distant expeditions that brought back natural wonders and rare testimonies of distant civilizations. The curious, combining fortune and culture, collects antique medals, rare plants, fossils or oriental ornaments. This collection of pieces, which embodies much more than their material reality, a subjective evocation of all the riches of the earth and all the knowledge of men, acts in the eyes of its owner as a microcosm of which he is the master and which he enjoys according to his will.
This is how the first cabinets were conceived to be transportable, often wooden structures calling for riches only those they shelter for a collector who refuses to part with them, even if only temporarily.
In the 17th century, the cabinet became more technically complex and more luxurious, until it could no longer be moved and became a prized and expensive collector's item that could be found in varying degrees in the homes of the bourgeoisie and the prince.
Kept in the eponymous room of the apartment, intimate and reduced, the cabinet causes a mise en abîme among the rest of the collection which continues beyond the piece of furniture, covering the room (kammer). Indeed in the 27 drawers of this cabinet was kept a collection within the collection, perhaps archaeological fragments or shells from overseas, perhaps refined perfumes or precious jewels.
Cultivating the taste of merit and surprise proper to the curious, the handling of the cabinet obeyed three steps.
Closed, in the upper part, it offers two scenes in bas-relief carved in geometrical medallions around which are inscribed geometrical cartouches with finely engraved foliage.
On the left leaf is what could be a triumphal entry of a king into the city. A royal entry is defined by the historian Pascal Lardellier as a major political rite consisting "for a city to officially welcome a sovereign or a high dignitary, in an architectural and theatrical setting prepared for the occasion.
We see a richly dressed rider in Roman style carrying a scepter, surrounded by two dancing musicians. In the background are two men at a window watching the show.
The opposite medallion shows a scene that is more difficult to identify. We see a Roman soldier and two men discussing. On the left is a boat, which could mean that the scene is taking place in a port. In the distance is the city with its tower and its dome.
The figure on the right, richly dressed, with a sword at his waist, carries a scepter in his left hand and points to the city with his right hand.
The figure on the left has in his right hand the same hat as the figure described above. He seems to be pointing to the boat.
In the center, the Roman soldier recognizable by his armor, helmet and spear is listening to the first figure. Perhaps this is a business scene?
Once the two leaves are open, 14 drawers are revealed, framing two leaves engraved with a fruit basket from which a flower rises. The interior of the main doors is also engraved with the same motif of a fruit basket and flowers with some variations.
Finally, the last opening reveals a luminous space reproducing a theater in wood marquetry. This feigned structure, reminiscent of the polychromy of Tuscan churches, is framed by nine small drawers.
In the upper part of the alcove, at the base of the opening as well as on the reverse side of the two leaves, is represented a wind rose in marquetry. To accentuate the effect of perspective, a checkerboard is created at the base of the alcove and leads the eye to a landscape painted on wood that is reflected in the two mirrors placed on either side of the representation.
This cabinet is astonishing for its well-executed ornamentation that exploits historiated reliefs, plays of light and colored marquetry, preserved in an exemplary way.
4 200 €