This is stunningly elegant 18th Century piece of French furniture can be described in several different ways. It is a classic buffet deux corps, meaning a buffet with “two bodies”. However, it is also a fold out writing desk or in French, a “scriban”. Tall fold out desks such as this, sometimes incorporated drawers beneath the writing desk, so they would be called a Sriban Commode. The piece you see below is rarely found on the market today, and if they are, they are much narrower. The carving of the moldings of this piece has beautiful subtleties. Just one example is the sides of the casement for the twelve drawers. As the upper bodie meshes into the lower, wider, section, the sides are carved shapely S-curves, instead of just two straight boards.
At the top, is the crown molding, bordered by two small linear moldings. Notice on the frieze, a repair has been formed in an artistically pointed triangle motif. The upper cabinet has double paneled cabinet doors, which can open to reveal books or other items needing storage space. There are five levels for storing items. On the interior of each door are magnificent full length and original steel locking mechanisms, with metal rods fitting into fleur-de-lis shaped sockets. On the interior left-hand door, the bolt that is turned to lock the bars into the sockets has a pierced heart motif. The outside ornamentation has two slightly asymmetrical, raised panels per door with shaped linear moldings ending in leaves of C-scrolls. The metal hinges run the entire length of each door.
The writing desk portion, between the upper unit, and lower buffet, has a fold down top enclosing a section of twelve small drawers. The drawers are in an S-scroll shape with metal knobs, and the writing surface has an inset leather panel. This rests upon three hand forged, full retractable square metal rods with pulls.
The lower buffet has ornamentation that is slightly different from the upper doors in that they are shaped with symmetrical moldings. Toward the bottom of the piece, there is a shaped apron with stylized palmettes and scrolls. All this rests upon two front feet with curved legs and small round bun feet. The back legs are rectangular blocks.
Truly a rarity in many ways, this imposing buffet deux corps writing desk from the 1700’s is full of wonderful details, and will be the focal point anywhere it is placed.
CONDITION: Good antique condition with old restorations, minor losses, wear, and traces of old wormwood. Some age separation, and bottom cabinet has a recently added pine board shelf.