A beautiful and rare walnut commode from Angoulême, France, this shapely chest of drawers can be considered a “sauteuse”. A sauteuse commode was known to have longer legs and only two tiers of drawers instead of three. The commode also has a distinct bombe shape known as “En Tombeau”, a voluminous form with all of its lines curved, with bulbous sides and a domed front. Commodes of the early 18th century of this form were known to be found in the port city of Bordeaux, only 67 miles from Angouleme. While it must be said that this furniture is undoubtedly French, it is extremely unusual to see the legs resting upon ball and claw feet, a feature more commonly seen in English furniture of the period. It may be within reason to attribute this feature to the International influence and relative proximity of the Angouleme region to the big port city of Bordeaux. While the wood used was a native French walnut, the piece has a certain exuberance and richness, a hallmark of Bordeaux furniture.
An interesting detail is that the bronze hardware has been stamped with a small inventory mark by the French government. During the reign of Louis XV (the 1700’s), when this chest of drawers was hand-carved, valuable metals, such as bronze, were often eligible for appropriation during wartime. In the event that there was a shortage of munitions, the stamped metal could be claimed by the government and melted down to make bullets and armaments.
Quarter round molding surrounds the rectilinear top, which is contrasted starkly by the bombe front and galbe sides. The sinuous front contains two tiers of half drawers constructed with asymmetrical panels surrounded by shallow, recessed molding. Large, fluted drop down handles with floret mounts grace each drawer front, flanking a foliate key plate with intwined S-curves. An ornamental and smaller version of the escutcheon can be seen on each tier, between the drawers.
Adding to the lithe body is a shaped apron on all sides. On the front apron, there is a large, stylized scalloped shell accompanied by a pair of rinceaux linenfold. The side aprons are also highly carved, with similar linenfold scrolls. Four ball and claw feet embellished with undulating fluting and a pair of leaf tips support the graceful period commode. Our unique 18th century walnut commode “Angouleme” is surely to be a focal point of any room in which it is placed. It blends stylistic cues from Louis XIV/Regence and Louis XV, offering a circa date of roughly 1715-1730.
CONDITION: Very good antique condition, with wear commensurate to age and use, including minor nicks, rubs, and fleabites. Minute traces of old wood worm and light staining to the top. Slight age separations and losses.