Whitehall Blog

Archive for December, 2010

Great Collection Now Displayed

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

We are excited to tell you that we have now displayed about 90% of a fabulous collection of antiques from a single collection–over one million dollars worth of impeccably chosen pieces by a great Georgia collector. This vast array includes French and English furniture, delft and French faience, tea caddies, snuff boxes, card cases, rare French art glass, early Bristol stemware, Black Forest carvings, tole, marble columns for sculpture, Art Deco club chairs, and more. Over the next few months we will continue to display more of the collection including exquisite glass paperweights, rare inkwells, Tartanware, a corkscrew collection including many mid-18th century examples, miniature furniture, garden fixtures, etc. Watch our website regularly as we bring you more and more information on this great collection.

Rococo Transitional Commode

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

wch704z-11This commode (French chest of drawers) was made in Arles (Provence)  about 1770 and displays fully the transition from Rococo to Neo-classical.  The bombe form, cabriole legs ending in escargot (whorl) feet, and deeply flowing apron all are elements speaking to the Rococo period which stretched from about 1730 to 1760.  All of the oval panels and the robust carved details, however, speak to the new concepts of design founded on discoveries at Pompeii and Herculaneum which brought to Europe the long lost designs of the Roman Empire–delicate floral tracery, swags, baskets of flowers and foliage, repetitive motifs of all types.

wch704z-det2-1Here we see the side of the commode–walnut by the way, typical of sophisticated provincial pieces, which shows the carved floral tendrils.  It also displays the boldness of the bombe form against the white wall.  A bit hard to notice–we can see them clearly on the front–are small carved Neo-classical tassels hanging from the bottom edge of the upper shaped panel with its ovolo corners (also a Neo-classical motif).

wch704z-det-1This detail shows dramatically the details of the Rococo aprons–front and sides–as well as the clear floral and tassel carving.  Of particular importance in valuing a commode is a pierced apron–very few are to be found.  Note also the leaf carving–profuse–on the legs and how it moves with the shape of the leg–creating an asymetrical effect that is a visual delight.  Note too all of the ribbons, vines and flowers surrounding the pierced, carved central floral basket–a challenging bit of work which the next photo more fully displays.

wch704z-apron-reverse-2-11Here we see the apron from underneath and behind–how carefully the carved details on the front have been accentuated by silhouetting all of the carving (a technique of removing extra wood on a slant to prevent a visual muddiness when viewed from an angle).  This technique is used on all pierced chair back carving by the way–for the same reason, to create crispness in the “vacant” space.  Here we also see the saw marks of the cutting of the huge block of walnut from which the entire apron was formed.  And of course we see unfinished wood having naturally oxidized for 250 years!

We have just reacquired this commode from a great client in Georgia–it is a delight to once again offer it to our clients.  We spent many days searching for a great commode some fifteen years ago–this was what we found to our great delight.  It has as little done as one can possibly find for under $50,000–were one to jump into the $100,000 category then even greater perfection would of course be expected.  The hardware has been replaced on this commode, it has a small repair to a rear foot, and the drawer linings appear to have been restored in the 19th century–all acceptable repairs of a house keeping nature.  Look carefully at the quality of wood selected by the cabinetmaker and his perfect execution of one of the most challenging of all 18th century French forms–truly a fine value for any collector at $45,000.00.  Size and further details on our website.