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The emergence of period provincial furniture – a play in three acts:

The provincial furniture of the nobility

In France, the second half of the 16ᵗʰ century was profoundly marked by eight wars of religion between Catholics and Protestants, which left the country in a state of ruin. In the 17ᵗʰ century, at the instigation of Henri IV, the Kingdom of France was to recover and reach its economic and military apogee. Its cultural influence spread throughout Europe. That is why this period is now called the “Grand Siècle”. The elite were to aspire to a new way of life, comfortable, expensive and peaceful.

The nobility was to leave the mediaeval fortresses and build splendid castles with cosier living spaces and more light thanks to numerous windows. Panelling adorned the walls along with tapestries and mirrors. The storage unit, which prior to this time was nothing more than a simple chest, was replaced by a newcomer: the commode, which was indeed “practical” (the English translation of “commode”) in all its forms – “tombeau”, “arbalète” or “galbée”. The trestle table that formerly stood in the château was replaced by an imposing banqueting table surrounded by comfortable chairs, produced on a large scale and in various shapes and forms: high back armchairs, flat back “fauteuils à la reine” armchairs, wing chairs, cabriolet chairs. The tall armoire took pride of place, proud of its poly-lobed panels in relief and its “crown”, its generously moulded cornice. As you explore these noble residences you will find furniture in the kitchens and pantries and in the servants’ quarters as well as in the hunting lodges at the bottom of the parks: for example, servers, pantry tables, country sideboards, meat safes as well as the tables, armoires and hunters’ buffets with marble tops on which game was carved. One of the favourite types of wood at that time was walnut, a wood species highly prized by the furniture-maker craftsmen, both for its delicate fibre and its various shades.

A fine example of the provincial furniture of the nobility

Louis XIII wardrobe – 17ᵗʰ century – Limousin - ME001
Louis XIII wardrobe – 17ᵗʰ century – Limousin

Louis XIII wardrobe – 17ᵗʰ century – Limousin

This linen cupboard from Limousin is typical of the first provincial furniture to make its way into aristocratic homes at the start of the 17ᵗʰ century. Before that, they put their clothes and linen in chests. This is a functional piece of furniture with just one audacious artistic feature: the moulding on the panels, designed to catch the light. During the same period, the armoire, the table and a few chairs came and brightened up the insides of the aristocratic residences and the stately homes of the wealthy landowners in the Provinces of France.

The provincial furniture of the bourgeoisie

All those who contributed to the sudden growth of trade and industry in the 17th century began to form a new social class, the bourgeoisie. Maritime factories were established in the large port cities of France. To build and fill their caravels, these factories needed goods from inland regions: wood, hemp, textiles, knives, firearms, wines, spirits, wheat, flour, etc. In next to no time, the floodgates opened, great amounts of wealth were accumulated and elegant manors and chateaux were built. In the 18ᵗʰ century, le Sieur Jean de Bouilhac, Louis XV’s doctor, ordered the construction of the Hôtel de Bouilhac in Montignac, the town where the Aux-Rois-Louis salesroom gallery is situated today. This hotel particulier is listed by the French Historic Monument Society.
The bourgeoisie’s strong aspiration to accede to the social status of the nobility continued all through the 17ᵗʰ century. To achieve this end, they embellished their homes with new living spaces, rivalling in terms of comfort and cosiness. They created entrance halls, living rooms, boudoirs, smoking rooms, studies, all of which called for new furniture. It was at this time that they invented the sofa, the confidante, the “duchesse” lounge chair, the “duchesse brisée”, the stool as well as a large number of chairs including the fireside chair which the smokers turned round to have their backs to the fireplace. In their studies they installed writing tables, derived from flat top desks, reading desks and slant top desks, often designed like a trompe l’oeil theatre décor behind which was hidden a set of drawers and a secret compartment, sometimes used for hiding love letters or “inheritance powder”, the name they gave to the poison they put inside rings and sprinkled into glasses at receptions in order to eliminate certain heirs.

A fine example of the provincial furniture of the bourgeoisie

Louis XIV walnut armoire – late 17ᵗʰ century - Perigord - ME002
Louis XIV walnut armoire – late 17ᵗʰ century - Perigord

Louis XIV walnut armoire – late 17ᵗʰ century - Perigord

This coffered armoire, with drawers in the lower part, is in the Louis XIV style. The ultimate aim was to flaunt in one’s own home an ostentatious piece of furniture, reflecting the pomp and splendour of Versailles, initiated by Louis XIV, the Sun King. This type of furniture crowned the social and economic success of a bourgeoisie that had made a fortune and wanted to show off. Heavy sideboards, big banqueting tables, dressers for displaying copper ware, pewter ware and pottery and two-tiered buffets in the servants’ quarters for arranging all the kitchen utensils.

Below you can see a few samples from our vast collection of period furniture. Please do not hesitate to consult us.

Curved chest of drawers in walnut – 18ᵗʰ century – South West

Curved chest of drawers in walnut – 18ᵗʰ century – South West – Reference : ME033 – The particular sign of this walnut dresser comes from the curve of its jambs combining softness and femininity. A broken molding softens the corners of the tray. The curve of the uprights prints its movement from top to…

Walnut four-door sideboard – Louis XIII – South-West

Walnut four-door sideboard – Louis XIII – South-West Neither imposing nor austere, while having the authentic Louis XIII register, this walnut chest combines its intimate size with a harmonious and assertive ornamentation that reflects the evolution of the lifestyle in the eighteenth century. Price: on demand. Reference: ME032    

French chest of drawers in walnut – 18ᵗʰ century – Rhône Valley

French chest of drawers in walnut – 18ᵗʰ century – Rhône Valley This dresser is called “sauteuse” because of the height of its feet slightly curved. Rarissime because of its small intimist proportions, it sports at the same time very rich Regency patterns designed by Jean Bérain, an ornamentalist of the eighteenth century who was…

Writing table in walnut – Louis XIV – Périgord

Writing table in walnut – Louis XIV – Périgord Exceptional quality of baluster type turning for this Louis XIV small writing table. Crafted in a quality walnut, it has the added bonus of a beautiful condition. Price: on demand. Reference : ME030  

Ceremonial walnut armchair – Louis XIV – South-West France

Ceremonial walnut armchair – Louis XIV – South-West France Its walnut frame entirely worked in “Os de mouton” gives this Louis XIV armchair this ostensible elegance ensuring its function of ceremonial. It embodies the craze for curves and lacrosse endings that occur during the Regency in the third period of the Louis XIV period. Deliberately,…

Walnut sculpture – Saint Joseph and the Christ Child – 18ᵗʰ century – South-West France

Walnut sculpture – Saint Joseph and the Christ Child – 18ᵗʰ century – South-West France The quality of the realization of this monoxyle work reveals the talent of the sculptor who represents Saint Joseph and the Infant Jesus from a trunk in walnut. The polychromy of origin can still be seen in places, the patina…

Firebacks – 16ᵗʰ, 17ᵗʰ, 18ᵗʰ and 19ᵗʰ centuries – Périgord foundries

Firebacks – 16ᵗʰ, 17ᵗʰ, 18ᵗʰ and 19ᵗʰ centuries – Périgord foundries Références : ME024, ME025, ME026, ME027.

Louis XV walnut Provençal “panetière” – 18ᵗʰ century – South of France

  Louis XV walnut Provençal “panetière” – 18ᵗʰ century – South of France Looking like a beautiful miniature cathedral, this carefully crafted little piece of furniture as sometimes thought to be an element of church furniture. In fact, it is a highly prized food safe popular in Provence in the 18ᵗʰ century. Hung on a…

Curved Louis XV walnut chest of drawers – 18ᵗʰ century – South-West of France

  Curved Louis XV walnut chest of drawers – 18ᵗʰ century – South-West of France The generous proportions of this “upper middle class” chest of drawers attest to the high social status of the person who commissioned this piece. Référence : ME019

Louis XIII walnut kitchen table – 17ᵗʰ century – Périgord

  Louis XIII walnut kitchen table – 17ᵗʰ century – Périgord   This is the sort of furniture that was used by servants for preparing meals and receptions in the kitchen quarters – the kitchen itself, the scullery, the cellar – in manors, mansions, castles… The excellent state of conservation makes this kitchen table outstanding,…

Normandy oak wardrobe – late 18ᵗʰ century – Pays de Caux

Normandy oak wardrobe – late 18ᵗʰ century – Pays de Caux Designed and created as a wedding gift by a cabinetmaker and a sculptor from Caux, this Normandy wardrobe has all the attributes appertaining to its terroir and its time, the end of the 18ᵗʰ century, when Neoclassicism made its great comeback. Reference number: ME015

Louis XIII two-tier walnut sideboard – 17ᵗʰ century – Périgord

  Louis XIII two-tier walnut sideboard – 17ᵗʰ century – Périgord   This two-tiered sideboard with four doors and three drawers is emblematic of the way in which furniture makers in the Périgord reinterpreted the Louis XIII style. Reference number: ME016

Louis XIII two-tiered walnut buffet – 17ᵗʰ century – South West France

Louis XIII two-tiered walnut buffet – 17ᵗʰ century – South West France The unusually diminished size of the upper cabinet makes this piece particularly appealing. This buffet is a true gem, attesting to the rigorous precision of the Louis XIII style released by the audacity of the Renaissance. The doors of the top cabinet are…

Provençal Louis XV walnut dough trough – 18ᵗʰ century – south of France

Provençal Louis XV walnut dough trough – 18ᵗʰ century – south of France This richly crafted dough trough comes from an artisanal workshop situated in Provence, in the Arles and Fourques region. It was created in the 18ᵗʰ century. This piece of kitchen furniture is easily recognisable with its high base and its typically Provençal…

Oak Gothic chest – 17ᵗʰ century – North of France

Oak Gothic chest – 17ᵗʰ century – North of France This chest is an excellent example of the last period of the Gothic style: Flamboyant Gothic. Its special feature is its set of five panels with “blind windows”, reminding you of stained glass windows in cathedrals; they are separated by small carved columns representing pilasters…

Cherry-wood curved chest of drawers – 18ᵗʰ century – South-West France

  Cherry-wood curved chest of drawers – 18ᵗʰ century – South-West France   This chest of drawers is basically a sturdy and plain structure; however, the curved line of its front gives it an attractive wavy shape. – The apex points follow a perfectly straight line, giving the illusion that there are nine drawers, whereas…

Walnut wood chest – 18ᵗʰ century – Bordeaux Region

Front embellished with floral vine design and tree of life, turned feet, rich moulding adding depth at base, beautiful wrought iron handles on either side, keyhole decorated with fantastic animals.

Louis XIV walnut armoire – late 17ᵗʰ century – Périgord

This coffered armoire, with drawers in the lower part, is in the Louis XIV style. The ultimate aim was to flaunt in one’s own home an ostentatious piece of furniture, reflecting the pomp and splendour of Versailles, initiated by Louis XIV, the Sun King. This type of furniture crowned the social and economic success of…

Louis XIII wardrobe – 17ᵗʰ century – Limousin

This linen cupboard from Limousin is typical of the first provincial furniture to make its way into aristocratic homes at the start of the 17ᵗʰ century. Before that, they put their clothes and linen in chests. This is a functional piece of furniture with just one audacious artistic feature: the moulding on the panels, designed…

17ᵗʰ century stagecoach travel trunk – Auvergne

Entirely covered with studded leather. Arabesque motifs.Hasps. Wrought iron handles on either side.

Walnut wedding gift wardrobe – 18ᵗʰ century – Lyon region

On the upper crosspiece, beneath the cornice, an inset contains a stunning coat of arms representing the family who commissioned this unique piece. The front of the wardrobe is richly decorated with seashells and leaves. The doors are enhanced by Bérain-style decorations. Bérain was a famous 18ᵗʰ century decorative artist who created many highly popular…

Walnut sideboard – Renaissance – 17ᵗʰ century

Offering a collection of Renaissance style decorations. Trompe l’œil panels on top doors. Side and bottom panels decorated with arabesques. Top and bottom horizontal crosspieces enhanced with palmettos and shells. Moulded drawers decorated with drop beads. Columns with ornamental capitals..

Curved commode four drawers – in walnut – 18ᵗʰ century

The commode stands on ribbed and curved feet and the design of the chest is decorated with raised hearts. On the lower panel are decorative carvings that include shells, criss crosses and small flowers.

Two tier Louis XV buffet in cherry wood – 18ᵗʰ century

Decorated with moldings, decorative flowers. Inner door to store tablewear. Arched cornice.Hoof feet.

Two-tier walnut dresser – Louis XIII – from the Périgord region of France

Top part narrower, fully sculpted diamond motifs, Maltese Cross on upper door, large cornice and rounded feet.

Walnut travelling chest – 17ᵗʰ century – Southern France

Dovetail construction, reinforced with metal plates, carrying handles of wrought iron. All the surfaces consist of a single plank including the top.

18ᵗʰ century cherrywood commode – South West of France

Sturdily built on scroll feet with columns on the sides. Crossbow front. Dovetailed drawers with bronze handles.

Curved commode in walnut – 18ᵗʰ century – South West of France

Sitting on scrolled feet, it has a pleasing sarcophagus shape, 3 dovetailed drawers with mouldings.

Walnut coffer – 18ᵗʰ century – Périgord

Made of exceptionally fine wood the sides and top have been made from the same plank ofaged walnut. The arched moulding surrounding the lock is indicative of the skill of contempory cabinet makers. The top is decorated with painted fleur de lys – symbol of nobility.

Oak chest – 17ᵗʰ Century – Auvergne

Extremely rare oak chest with rounded lid. Front decorated with four Caryatids in stylised girdles and three panels with mascarons on them (a lion in the centre and a human mask on either side) and wormlike motifs. The hasp is vintage as well as the three hinge strips which clasp down the upper part.