Picardy, circa 1590
Walnut with traces of original gilding and paint, ebony, marble and bronze.
Provenance: Joseph Brummer, New York; Dikran Kelekian, Paris. A broken pediment enframes a stacked plinth is raised above the upper half of the cabinet, which has two doors, carved in low relief, each depicting a mythological god and goddess respectively, modeled after sixteenth century Mannerist engravings. These doors are each flanked by a pair of ebony colonnettes, which enframe grotesque carvings and inset marble plaquettes. The interior of the upper cabinet and doors is lined with late sixteenth century silk damask and cross-banded, in various geometric forms, with period silk gimp. This part of the upper cabinet is raised on a base of three drawers, each inset with marble, and the central one of which is decorated with carved grotesques. The lower half of the cabinet stylistically and formalistically echoes the upper half. The cabinet retains its original wrought-iron hinges, locks, lock escutcheons, and keys. Considered to be the most prestigious piece of furniture in the sixteenth century, this type of cabinet in two parts is a fine and rare example of the French court cabinet, a form first popularized at Fontainebleau. The cabinet is crowned by a mid-sixteenth century Paduan bronze bust of a Roman Senator. This cabinet remains in its original form with only minor repairs. Evidence of late seventeenth century repairs confirms the high esteem in which these cabinets were held throughout the centuries.