Rococo Period Three Drawer Painted Chest, France circa 1750
The exceptional carved detail of this Louis XV period chest of drawers (circa 1750) is wonderful to view. Enhanced by the painted finish this chest was designed to be seen from both sides and the front as the exquisite and delicate balance of the carving extends across the façade and left and right sides. Please look at the front with its shape known as "en arbalette". The gentle in and out movement is taken from the shape made by a cross bow and it is ironic that the deadly force exerted by a cross bow could be used to such beautiful effect when applied to a piece of furniture. What is important here is that it is not only the front of the chest that has the curved profile but also each drawer front follows the same profile to create a unified whole. Because this chest is from the true Rococo period each drawer front bears a similar but not matching design in its carving. Each drawer is centred upon an escutcheon (the metal plate that protects the timber from a metal key inserted into the lock) encircled by a wreath but note how the wreath dips in front of and behind the raised leafy foliage. The sculptural effect created by deeply chiseled carving is enchanting and continues outward along each of the three drawers as the undulating leafy branches move in languid curves. The wide horizontal sections enclosed by the carving serve to frame the exuberant bronze handles that spread across the façade with nary a straight line to be seen. Along each of the front corners lie slender vertical sections filled with a floral swag at the top within a slender carved border that accentuates the up and down movement of the curved corner. Placed directly beneath the three drawer escutcheons in the center of the apron of the chest is an open wreath flanked by lovely undulating foliage that extend outward to the front legs. Both front legs are done in an exaggerated cabriole shape adorned with carving that emphasizes the detail. Even the rear legs are of the same quality as are the panels on both sides indicating that the chest was conceived and designed to give pleasure from all directions. Please notice that the top of this antique French chest has flared rear corners in addition to the front "arbalette" shape, another clue to its exceptional design. The excellent attention to the balance and harmony of the Rococo details demonstrates the mastery of French cabinet making in the eighteenth century that remains dazzling today.
WIDTH: 51 in | HEIGHT: 31½ in | DEPTH: 24½ in
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