FRANCE, FRANCHE COMTÉ DÉBUT DU XVIIe SIÈCLE
TWO-BODY FURNITURE "AUX CAVALIERS"
walnut H. 244 cm, W. 150 cm, D. 55 cm
- J. Thiron, Le mobilier du Moyen Âge à la Renaissance, Ed. Faton, Dijon, 1998.
This richly moulded and sculpted two-body walnut cabinet symbolises the four empires: Ninus (Assyria), Cyrus (Persia), Alexander the Great (Greece) and Julius Caesar (Rome), after the work of the painter Martin de Vos (Antwerp, 1532-1603), engraved by the Flemish Adriaen Collaert (1560-1618) (fig 1) and by Grégoire Fentzell, engraver in Nuremberg. This exceptional two-body piece of furniture with a strong architectural design opens with two lower leaves surmounted by two drawers and two other leaves and two drawers in its upper recessed part. It is surmounted by a pediment. The protruding mouldings underline the different levels horizontally, creating a play of linear contrast with the six vertical caryatids.
The rectilinear shape is erased by the exuberance of the sculpture which covers the entire piece of furniture in high and light relief. Feminine and masculine terms are used on the façade. Treated in high relief, they all present a different physiognomy and appearance. The central panels of this cabinet are enhanced by sculptures representing the emperors of ancient history, the four great conquerors: Ninus who embodies the empire of Assyria, Cyrus the Persian, Alexander the Greek, Julius Caesar the Roman. These equestrian figures develop on several two-body furniture similar to the one we present (figs. 2 to 5).
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