This painted tabernacle pedestal is of the Empire style and was produced in France in the 1800’s. The Empire period reflected the ambitions of Napoleon: he wanted France to be the ultimate power. Napoleon believed that furniture and art should pay homage to dominant civilizations, such as ancient Greece and Rome. Examples of such neoclassical elements include laurel leaves, acanthus rinceaux, and thin ribbons, as well as the prevalence of right angles and symmetry. All these features can be seen on our tabernacle.
Tabernacles are lockable ornate cabinets used to store the Eucharist. Our hand-carved piece was most likely taken from a private chapel, as the center of the door contains a stylized “M” and “R”. The monogram is surrounded by bead and spindle motif in a circular fashion and topped with an open crown. The bottom half of the circle is enveloped by a flowery bouquet that is tied with a crinkled ribbon. Above the crown is a flowering garland swag of laurel leaves. The edges of the recessed door are lined with egg and dart motif.
The tabernacle is topped by a shaped plinth with an arched frontage. This form is kept throughout the entire structure from the base to the two unpainted shelves behind the monogrammed door. The rest of the tabernacle has been painted in an off-white color. A large, sprawling acanthus leaf rinceaux at the top of the tabernacle sits in between a row of bead and spindle and egg and dart motifs. The base has cavetto molding and is adorned with more bead and spindle and repeating acanthus leaves. Two flowing acanthus margents can be seen flanking the top of the door, while each side of the bottom is skirted by a flaming heart rising from an acanthus leaf.
Our painted 19th century tabernacle has impressive hand-carved elements. It can be used as a cabinet for storing small items in a bathroom or bedroom. It is also tall enough and has a wide enough plinth (roughly 16 ½ inches) that it could be used as a pedestal to stage an accessory or work of art.
CONDITION: Wear commensurate to age and use with minor losses and fleabites. Chips to paint along some edges (please see photos). No key for lock on door.