Tuesday, 30 September 2014

French furniture part 2 - La commode

 Otherwise translated as a chest of drawers.

A side view in situ
This piece was quite large, not sure of the age (again more knowledgable readers could suggest a originating period) and worn in several places. It had veneer in several places and really was in need of sympathetic expert restoration. Essentially it comprised a base unit with 4 wide drawers, and upper unit with a mirror and two integral small drawers.
The top was damaged probably by water and the veneer was missing in several places.
The bottom has some turned features with interesting square details ending in turned feet.

Nicely proportioned chest
of drawers with ornate
mirror unit on the top
One thing that shows the integrity of a dovetail joint was that most of the drawer fronts no longer had any glue but still the handcut dovetails were as strong as the day they were made.

The bottoms of the small drawers appeared to be resawn from a single wide board and the underside still had the saw marks clearly visible. The edges had been planed down on an angle to form a angled rabbet that slid into grooves in the drawer sides and front.

Very wide drawers simply running
on top of a web frame.
The owner of the house was an expert upholsterer and
she had renovated the chair seen in this shot.

The value of using dovetails is
clearly evident on this piece.
There is little if any glue left in the joints!

Small upper drawers

Here you can clearly see the resaw marks
on the underside of the bottom panel.
Maybe Monsieur Roubo used one of his saws on this?
Also note the angled rabbets. Interesting.

Again the value of dovetails.
The pins have shrunk a little here.

The camera has not bent that front panel of the drawer.
It was actually bent like a banana!
You can see the damage to the veneer on the top here too.

This was a wonderful piece in the bedroom of the first chateau we stayed in. The owner had collected many pieces like this over the years and she had amassed a huge collection of antiques in every room in the house.

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