This antique polychrome and giltwood low bookcase was produced in Florence, Italy in the 1800’s. The interior (including the shelves) has been painted blue, and the same is true for the top of the bookcase. This blue can also be seen as a background color beneath the various gilded motifs. Carved borders have been painted gold with red highlights, making for a vividly colored cabinet.
Interestingly, the motifs that adorn the bookcase were not all produced the same way: some of the elements are carved directly from the wood, while others are affixed by a process known as applique. The cornice has been embellished with layers of repeating acanthus and battlement above a frieze that features pierced shells with floral rinceaux. The ends and the middle of the frieze have raised square panels festooned with carved winged cherub heads. There is also a row of crenellated arches in the cornice that is repeated on the fronts of each shelf. The architrave contains carved eagles surrounded by acanthus curls and topped with a scrolled cornice and a floral rosette.
Beneath each eagle is a vertical mullion with recessed rectangles surrounded by molding. The recessed portion is adorned with applique of a long margent of flowers and foliage emanating from two separate urns. The applique on the apron base has some missing elements, but a mascaron and an eagle are still visible among three distinct coats of arms carvings above repeating foliate swags. The sides feature carved vertical margents of foliate rinceaux, scrolled acanthus and a central coat of arms topped with a bas relief open crown.
The amount of detail that went into the carvings and the applique work of this cabinet is truly phenomenal. Some of the elements are part of recessed panels, while other motifs pop right out of the wood. Our 19th century polychrome and giltwood low bookcase can be placed in most rooms of the house that need an ornate cabinet. It would look great in an office, study or a game room.
CONDITION: Wear commensurate to age and use with age separations and old repairs. Loss of gilding and paint with some missing motifs throughout. Please see photos.