Known in France as a buffet de boiserie, this magnificent period Regence buffet would have been built in the early 1700s. The thick and luscious moldings of this unique piece of furniture have retained a deep and rich patina during the past three centuries. Based on the provenance of the buffet, it was originally commissioned between 1715-1723 for a regional Lyonnaise chateau owned by the Grully family. Remarkably the furniture stayed within the family until 2014, transported between various grand residences within France every few generations.
The center of the upper body has an open niche topped by a white marble with gray veining and a quarter-round molding that would have been used to hold a lavabo or fountain. All three sides of the niche have inset panels with luscious and curvaceous molding, mirroring the voluptuously thick crown with a deep cavetto cornice. The sinuosity continues throughout the buffet, as all four outer doors have been carved with a double curve. An equally impressive apron follows suit, with a protruding center section above two block feet festooned with several layers of molding, flanked by a pair of half-bun feet with identical step molding beneath the cyma recta section of the apron. When opened, the upper body doors reveal three shaped shelves per side, while the lower body has single shelves in all three compartments (the outer shelves are shaped, while the shelf behind the center doors is more traditional). The wood has a lovely deep brown patina that has been accentuated by several applications of French wax.
Suitable for a variety of purposes, the buffet can be used in a dining room as originally intended. It could also be used in a study or den as a fantastic dry bar or perhaps in an entry hall with a sculpture or statue installed in the niche. Our period Regence walnut buffet de boiserie will certainly be the focal point of whichever room it is featured.
Measurements of niche opening: H – 57 1/2, W – 34, D – 22 1/2.
History as presented to Le Louvre French Antiques upon initial acquisition in 2014:
The piece of furniture was built at the beginning of the 18th century to decorate the dining room of a castle in the Lyon region belonging to the Grully family. At the beginning of the 19th century, a young lady from Grully married a Mr. Bruguière-Fontenille, residing in Normandy at the Château de Muy. She takes the woodwork sideboard with her to decorate her new home.
At the end of the 19th century, a Miss Bruguière-Fontenille married one of her second cousins living in Clermont l’Hérault. She in turn takes the buffet as a wedding present.
Finally, in 1952, one last Miss Bruguière-Fontenille married Dr. Giraud in Montpellier. The buffet leaves with her in her husband’s private mansion. She died in December 2013. Once the inheritance was settled, the piece was bought from her sons in March 2014, and purchased almost immediately by Le Louvre.
Thus it appears that the “furniture” remained “mobile” very late, and that, even included in the woodwork, it continued to follow its successive owners.
A woodwork sideboard with a fountain niche in its center was all the more part of the mobile furniture as its symbolic value was highly valued in the organization of the home. Private Collection Dallas Texas 2015-2023
CONDITION: Strong and beautiful antique condition with minor wear and losses. Old restoration work (including, but not limited to) a repair to the corner of the marble, a door, and a shelf on the lower body. More recent restoration includes replaced inner panels which are only visible when the buffet is disassembled. Not all locks function, but those that do not have antique key pulls. Light buildup and scratches to marble.