A pair of consoles dessertes, executed in mahogany veneer and with Carrara marble tops. The consoles each stand on four tall slender legs, interrupted by a shelf edged with a gilt bronze border at the front and a gallery rim along the sides and back. At the intersection with the shelf, the legs incorporate blocks decorated with square, fire-gilt bronze rosettes. Above these, the legs are fluted and tapered, narrowing slightly towards the upper side, where they segue into the blocks that form the flanking stiles for the drawer. The blocks are decorated with gilt bronze appliques. The shape of the drawer between the blocks is enhanced by a rectangular pearl border. Within the field enclosed by this border are two round pulls with rings, between which is the key plate with bows and festoons.
The rounded sides of the consoles feature faux drawers bearing the same decorations as the drawer at the front. The consoles have Carrara marble tops decorated with a gallery rim.
The console desserte emerged during the reign of Louis XVI, along with the appearance of the dining room table. Before then, meals were eaten at tables that were removed afterwards. When the table made its entrance as a fixed item of furniture, other furniture spread around it to complete the furnishings of the dining room.
As a type of furniture, the console desserte was the final step in the development of 18th-century French buffets that derived from the buffet bas or meuble à hauteur d’appui, an item of furniture with two doors and one or more drawers. A subsequent step in that development was the commode à l’anglaise, a piece with doors and rounded sides with open shelves on which attractive porcelain, silver and crystalware was displayed.
In the 1880s, these commodes à l’anglaise lost their doors and side shelves in favour of a fully open front with a display shelf between the legs. Initially they retained a closed back, but the next phase of their development saw that disappear too. The final result was the elegant item of furniture we call the console desserte, a name that refers to its frequent application in dining rooms, where desserts were placed on such consoles. The bottom shelf continued to serve as a place to display porcelain and silver. Furniture such as these consoles were generally produced in pairs, though many have become separated over the years.
The consoles bear the stamp of Victor Jean Gabriel Chavigneau (1746-1806), about whom not much is known. We do know that he was accepted into the furniture-maker’s guild on 23 January 1787, and that he had a workshop on Rue de Charonne. He began his career as a free furniture-maker, working for other ébenistes, including Guillaume Beneman (1750 – after 1811). His works consist of simple, sleek furniture, often executed in mahogany or fruitwood, and are characterised by carefully executed, sober designs.
Both consoles bear an inventory mark in the shape of two letters C or G placed back to back, followed by inventory number 153. To date, this mark has not been identified.
Galerie Perrin, Paris
Private collection, the Netherlands
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