Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.



  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1700 - 1720 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (maker)

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Miss Margaret Coutte Trotter

  • Museum number:

    1442:1 to 2-1882

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Commodes, as chests-of-drawers were known in France, were first made in about 1700 and rapidly became the most fashionable form of furniture in France, ousting the cabinets-on-stands that had held that place in the late 17th century.

This elegant commode has a fashionable double-curved profile to the front, called ‘arc en arbalette’ or ‘in the form of a crossbow’. It is veneered in ebony, richly inlaid with marquetry showing motifs taken from a variety of engravings – flowers, vases and formal scrollwork. It was surely made in a Parisian workshop but we know little of its history. In the early 19th century it formed part of the furnishing of the Château de Montargis, to the south of Paris, from where it was bought, with four other pieces, by the English woman who finally bequeathed it to the Museum, but it is unlikely that it was made for that building.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)


ca.1700 - 1720 (made)


Unknown (maker)

Object history note

By repute part of the furnishings of the Château de Montargis in 1832. Previous history undocumented. Purchased, together with four other pieces of furniture (1439 to 1443-1882) by Miss Margaret Coutts Trotter (1809-1882), by whom bequeathed to the Museum in 1882.

Montargis was owned by Philippe I, duc d'Orléans (1640-1701). The pieces may have been purchased for one of his residences but this is not documented.

Historical context note

This is part of a set of five pieces of marquetry furniture, probably made in Paris ca. 1700. It was purchased from the Château de Montargis in the early 19th century, but it is unlikely that this sophisticated, Paris-made furniture was originally destined for that rather remote chateau.

Descriptive line

A commode or chest of drawers with double curved front, of the form described as arc en arbalette (crossbow shaped), with outset front corner stiles above hoof feet in gilt brass. The front appears to show eight drawer fronts but these function as three longer drawers below two narrower drawers. The commode, including its top, is veneered in ebony on softwood, inlaid with marquetry of flowers and strapwork in a variety of woods, with ivory highlights and brass stringing.

Labels and date

[Label text by Peter Thornton]

Chest of drawers
French (Paris); about 1690

Floral marquetry of various woods with gilt brass mounts. This came from the Château de Montargis but may not necessarily have been there since it was made.

Given by Miss M. Coutts Trotter
Museum No. 1442-1882 [1980]
Chest of drawers
Floral marquetry of various woods with gilt brass mounts
French: last quarter of the 17th century
Part of a suite from the Chateau de Montargis
Given by Miss Margaret Coutts Trotter [1966]


Furniture; Marquetry


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.