Whereas many pieces of furniture during the Italian Renaissance were heavily painted or inlaid with decorative motifs, French examples utilized hand-sculpted elements as the predominant form of ornamentation. A beautiful example of a French Renaissance period offering is this carved oak chest from the 1500s.
True to the Renaissance style, our chest features architectural elements surrounding visages that have been given increased importance through Pagan-like carvings. A pair of crenelated moldings can be seen on the front façade of the chest, just above four husked columns. The columns flank a pair of recessed panels, which in turn flank two more recessed panels separated by a thinly molded plank. All four panels are topped with three mascarons (two are in profile and facing inwards) above a lobed niche. Beneath each arched edifice is a distinct profile of a man dressed in typical Renaissance garb, presented above lobed and scrolled elements. Additional profiles can be seen on the two sides, set within circular molding. Similar to the front center panels, the cameos on the sides are separated by a vertical strip, slotted in between foliate groupings.
The robust Renaissance oak chest sits on small block feet, with the apron barely off the ground. It is quite possible that the feet were pared down due to damage, as typically chests of this age were given a higher clearance to help prevent infestation and buildup from damaging the contents inside (the floors of the Renaissance were often full of insects and prone to mildew). We have recently given this big trunk a light coat of French wax and a thorough polish. The carvings and character of the very old oak boards are fascinating to study. Today, the chest can be used in any room that needs storage, from a bedroom to a living room.
CONDITION: Strong antique condition, with minor fading to some carved elements. Presence of age separations and nicks, both commensurate with wood that is 500 years old. Very light losses to the feet, which were most likely carved with more height, but have since been trimmed down due to wood worm and/or rot caused from sitting on damp floors.