Jean-Baptiste Gamichon Commode
This superb mahogany veneered commode was created is Paris about 1805-1815–it is a fine study of style, construction, and signing methods for French furniture of the highest caliber. We will explore all of these aspects.
From a style standpoint this is a perfect representation of the Imperial Taste of the Napoleonic era incorporating columns, gilt bronze mounts, and a powerfully overhung top drawer creating an architectural statement, and in fact much of the furniture produced by the few remaining great cabinetmakers of this era was designed by architects. By 1810 only 6,000 men were earning a living throughout France making furniture. In the 18th century over 100,000 were earning their living making furniture! As an example, the great Jacob firm had declined to having only 332 workers and of those only six were apprentices–a shocking portrait of further decline ahead.
What is magnificent here is the continued brilliance of these great ebinistes–the finest mahoganies were chosen for veneers and the front of the commode is a cohesive whole of uplifting visual statement–the veneer pattern urges our eyes upward. Balance is also a keenly felt aspect of this piece–the outset full columns with finely chased bronze mounts create a pattern of balance further accentuated by the choice of veneer cuts.
The quality of craftsmanship exhibited on the exterior continues on the interior–as it must on authentic period French cabinetry. Only oak and ash have been used for the secondary woods (the drawers are equally fine, again solid oak and ash, exquisitely dovetailed and finished. Here we see floating panel construction in the dust dividers found between each rank of drawers and on the back–construction designed to ameliorate the effects of many years of shrinkage anticipated by the maker (although one crack on the back has appeared when the wood was held too tightly in its channels).
Stamp of Maker
These stamps punched into the surface of the first inset drawer indicate the maker’s name and city where he worked–Gamichon a Paris (Gamichon of Paris). This same stamp but with name above the city is found, as was common, on the top of each upright case post–hidden, of course, under the marble. Jean-Baptiste Gamichon was born in 1760 and died in 1835 A fairly modest record exists of his known work, cabinet shop location, etc. He was definitely recommended to the re-established Garde-Meuble, which made Imperial acquisitions directly from cabinetmakers to foster their rapidly dying art as noted earlier. Furniture was warehoused until needed in the Imperial palaces, chateaus, government buildings, embassies, and so forth.
A graceful three tiered work table stamped by Gamichon is in the Huntington Art Gallery collection of the decorative arts.
Currently a graceful little cabinet is offered by N. P. Trent of West Palm Beach (easily googled) for $22,500.00. It has an apparently identical lock and is stamped to each side of the lock just as this commode is stamped.
Our commode is listed on our website under both Chests and Recent Acquisitions — inventory WOF 705Z. The size and price are listed on the website.