This richly decorated two-drawer commode in walnut wood, is from Nimes, France, and was created around 1740. Furniture makers from Nimes and their neighbors in Arles, used the finest materials and paid close attention to line and form. Commodes, or Chests of Drawers, from this region are sometimes called “commode sauteuses” or jumping commodes because of their long legs and two drawers. Some of the commodes were “galbe” or rounded/curved in the front. Rarer, were models which were both galbe and “arbalete” or crossbow front, such as this one. Not only is the front shaped, but so are the sides. This would have been a very difficult piece to carve.
Provence, in the South of France, was heavily influenced by the tastes of their Italian neighbors during the Renaissance. Beginning in the 16th and 17th centuries, there was a preference for curving lines and rich sculpture. This would eventually give birth to the very distinct rocaille style of 18th century furniture in Provence, heavily based on the style of Louis XV. Rich floral decorations, crossbow frontages, with light, sinuous moldings and carvings became synonymous with Provence, and especially Nimes. Nimoise commodes and armoires had pierced or open-work aprons and sometimes even side-aprons, as seen in the commode here. These aprons are a complex mélange of intertwining scrolled shells, flowers, and foliate motifs.
The commode is fitted with a beautiful Rouge de Languedoc marble top, which has canted corners, and a soft rounded edge. All four legs are cabriole form and end in scrolling escargot feet. Note how the top of the bottom drawer is curved at the shoulders, allowing the foliate carvings to reach over from the side. The sides of the piece are “galbe” or curved along two planes, and there are two curved and molded forms, of which the lower and larger molding frames an inset star. There are almost too many details to describe. It is fascinating to study every inch of this commode and consider what kind of skill and imagination was needed to execute such a piece.
The commode has a rich, warm patina and has recently been given a light French wax. This premium example of a Nimoise Commode from the mid-18th century will grace any interior.
CONDITION: Very good antique condition with some old worm holes. Minor nicks, wear, and repairs, commensurate with age and use.