Offered by Antiquités Philippe Glédel
18th Furniture, country french furniture
Rare and precious small commode from Saint-Malo in solid courbaril and ebony intarsia.
This commode of pure Louis XIV style, low and small, is a very rare model which is among the oldest of Saint-Malo that we know.
Slightly curved on the front, it opens with four drawers on three rows (the first row with two drawers sliding directly under the top as on the oldest chests of drawers, and simulating, by its keyhole adjusted in cutting, a single large drawer, this perfectly recalling the symmetrical order of the Grand Siècle) and rests on ball feet (both front and back) in blackened curbaril.
The overflowing tray, with a beak of corbelled edges, is made of two large boards perfectly joined together, and is removable, and maintained by two hooks in the pure tradition of Malouin furniture made within the city. It is dismantled in the counterpart, to accommodate three false tenons that engage in mortises (made in the back rail and those of the sides) with through pegs (pegging possibly executed later for more solidity), and to fit in the front in the tenon finishing the small intermediate rail of the drawers of the upper row.
The sides are smooth.
Top, front and sides are made of solid courbaril wood.
Courbaril is an exotic wood, close to mahogany, harder and denser than Cuban mahogany, but above all heavier, and much more rarely found than the latter in the construction of harbor furniture (add to this that it is not always identified). In his book Le meuble de port, Louis Malfoy mentions it among the "varieties encountered on port furniture" (number 24) and two chests of drawers in courbaril are illustrated (see documentation).
The density of courbaril, a non-floating wood, is 940 Kg/m3 against 800 Kg/m3 for guaiac and only 590 Kg/m3 for mahogany and, to compare with European woods, which are considered among the heaviest, 720 Kg/m3 for oak and acacia. So the weight of this little chest of drawers is not only astonishing, it is absolutely amazing.
The top, front and sides in solid courbaril are decorated with wide ebony fillets drawing rectangular reserves. Ebony (not blackened pearwood) means cabinetmaker, and indeed this chest of drawers is the work of a member of that corporation. Its remarkable finish and its quality construction (including the oak mesh backs) attest to this.
If we entrusted the restoration of its frame to our carpenter (bottoms, floors, slides ... entirely revised) we turned to our cabinetmaker for its finish, and quite naturally he chose the varnish buffer. (We know that some enthusiasts claim that the furniture of port were not varnished but there are however, for the richest homes, which were). The result is convincing: the old patina is complemented by the formidable polish and the rendering of the stamp varnish (alas, the cause of many reflections, which we will excuse, on the photographs) and thus the reddish-brown, slightly purplish courbaril is perfectly highlighted, very well illuminated by the openwork brass fittings.
Distant from the rustic charm of a chestnut chest of drawers from the Rance Valley, it is here the elegance and refinement of a city chest of drawers and of a commission for the furnishing of a private mansion in Saint-Malo that is shown.
42 000 €
25 000 €