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Dutch Louis XVI Commode

Dutch Louis XVI Commode

The commode was manufactured in the Louis XVI style. This piece of furniture has diagonally placed front styles and stands on tapered legs with button feet. The legs are decorated with small, also tapered fields with a motif of hanging flower buds. Above the legs are the styles decorated with faux flutes of lemon wood and bois teinté with narrow bands of ebony and boxwood. The diagonal corners-styles wear ormolu corner fittings in the form of a main frame, decorated with a garland of flowers.

The front of the chest shows a profiled projecting middle part, so a three-way division occurs with a wide middle flanked by two slightly smaller portions. The sides of the chest are flat.
The lower line shows on three sides between bands of rosewood a wide brim which is decorated with acanthus leaf in current-cat or wave motif. A gilt bronze skirt with a straight top, acanthus leaf and fluted consoles is installed in the centre. Although the front shows a trichotomy, the chest contains only two doors. Left a small door, right a wide door with hinges on two points: between the middle and the right side, and the far right. On the left of the door is the lock with a round ormolu key plate, hanging from a bow with hanging tassels. This part of the door shows left and right slightly concave curved frames, decorated with marquetry of an oval and a diamond motif hooked together against a backdrop of bois teinté. The decoration is surrounded by narrow bands of palm and ebony and encased in an edge of rosewood. The left list functions as a stroke list.

The interior contains a swiveled shelf, as in several Dutch chests - which may also have been used as a buffet - is found. On the bottom shelf one could put a basin with high a high ewer.
The chest is decorated with five fields marquetry work. All fields or "panels" are surrounded by bands of boxwood, ebony and sycamore with protruding corners. The middle field on the front is also enclosed in a border of cross entwined with laurel leaf rosettes in the salient angles. The edge is surrounded by rushes of palm, ebony and sycamore wood.

The panels on the left and right at the front were made after prints, Les trophees de Chasse, published in 1776 by Tardieu after a design of Charles Delafosse. The left panel shows a dead bird, some arrows, a game bag, a horn and a handle of the basket against a background of, a bow hanging drapery and branches with oak leaves and acorns. Below is a table with two books and a half rolled sheet of parchment containing a part of the plan of a fortress. Behind the parchment is a brush holder with two brushes.
The right pane also shows a hunting trophy. Against a background of oak branches with a bow hanging a drapery with previously killed a bird, a bow, a sheaf of arrows, a quiver filled, a game bag, a bucket with two of wine, a large and a small horn.
Below on a table a sealed letter with the seal of the initials ES, behind a (write) spring and a bar with beveled edges. Besides the letter is a tazza bearing a basket of fruit between which a spring is inserted. The remaining panels show narrative scenes from the "Fables" by Jean de la Fontaine and can be attributed to the Parisian cabinetmaker AL Gilbert    (1746 - 1809)  who applied 20 july 1774  as maître-ébéniste in the Paris guilt of furniture makers.

Gilbert first worked in the Rue Traversiere, and from 1785 in the Faubourg St. Antoine. He is best known for his marquetry-work in a characteristic, somewhat naive but highly decorative and charming style. Gilbert made preferably river landscapes with trees, houses and palatial buildings, as we see on this side.
The Fables: on the left side "Le cheval et le loup". We see a landscape with a large ruin like building a few houses, a bridge, trees and a river. In the foreground we see in a pasture a horse that gives a kick to a wolf.

Briefly, the fable goes like this: in the spring all the animals go back outside. The horse is in the meadow and a passing wolf thinks: "I did fancy a horse- bite, but this is not a stupid lamb, so I really should invent a ploy to hoodwink that horse." The wolf pretends to be a doctor and surgeon and says he can heal every disease that the horse might have. The horse, indeed not stupid, says he has an abscess under his hoof. If the wolf wants to look at it, he gets a hefty kick of the horse. Somewhat sad and a little late, wolf realizes that no one should pretend to be someone else. On the right side the fable of "Le loup et le renard" is illustrated. Again, a landscape with a large ruin, some houses, trees and a river decorates the panel. In the foreground a well above which hangs a bucket and a wolf who looks into the pit.

The fable in brief: A fox looks at an evening in a well and thinks the reflection of the full moon in the water is a delicious cheese. He climbs into the bucket and falls into the water, where no cheese is found. He realizes his folly and wonders how he can get the hell out of the pit. Two days later, the wolf passes and the fox tells him "you see that delicious cheese I have eaten my belly already full, but there is more than enough for two. Come down and enjoy me." The wolf gets into the other bucket and drops in the water. Because of its weight, the bucket with the fox goes upward, so that he can climb out of the pit. The moral: everyone is tempted easy if you delude him what he wants to hear.

The middle panel on the front illustrates one of the most famous fables of La Fontaine: "Le Corbeau et le Renard".
In the same type of landscape, with palatial ruins, houses, trees and water we see a fox capturing cheese dropped by a raven on the tree branch just above.
The fable in brief: the raven is sitting in a tree with a cheese in its beak. Fox compliments him how wonderful he looks and says: "If your voice is as beautiful as your raven feathers sir, you are the most beautiful animal of the forest." In order to let his beautiful voice out, the raven opens his beak ... and the fox goes off with the cheese .The moral: flattery is eventually paid dearly.

Jean de la Fontaine (Chateau Thierry 1621 - Paris 1695) showed talent for poetry. He studied law in Paris, but found his friends especially among the members of the close association "La Table Ronde".
Although La Fontaine, had several activities at the court (for example in the House of the Duchess of Orléans),  to provide for his livelihood, he presented himself mostly as a poet. His most famous work is undoubtedly "Les Fables", which was first published in 1668. This first edition consisted of 124 fables in six books. Extensions appeared in 1678 and 1679. A final edition of the fables, in twelve books, appeared in 1709, after La Fontaines death.

The first edition of the fables was dedicated in 1668 to the Dauphin, the six-year old son of Louis XIV; La Fontaine characterized the publication as a "lecture agréable, mais aussi utile et sérieuse". He wrote that the fables where largely based on Aesop's fables (Greece 620-560 V. Chr.) and that he, like Aesop, for his wise lessons used the animals to the people something to learn.

Pierre Kjellberg, Le mobilier français du XVIII siècle, Paris 2002.
Jean de la Fontaine, Fables de La Fontaine, Paris, 1925

Dutch Louis XVI Commode
Price on request
1944: Frank Partridge, London 1949: Sotheby & Co. London, sale 16 dec, lot.no. 162. 1950: Jacob Stodel, Exhibited at the Delft antique fair, depicted in the catalogue. 1950– 2008: Collection Maurizio Veneziani, Rome.
ca. 1775
tulipwood, boxwood, ebony, amaranth, and a variety of fruitwoods, Breche d'Alep marble top, gilt mounts
91 x 60 x 129 cm

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