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Commode

  • Date:

    1750-1760 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Marquetry of kingwood, tulipwood and other woods, gilt brass mounts, marble slab.

  • Credit Line:

    The Arthur James Collection, bequeathed by his wife

  • Museum number:

    W.38-1948

  • Gallery location:

    On display at Sewerby Hall and Gardens, Bridlington

The commode was a French innovation of the late 17th century. In essence a chest of drawers, the function of the commode in fashionable interiors was primarily decorative and it played an essential role in interior decoration throughout Europe during the following century. Placed against a wall in a formal room, it formed a receptacle for lavish surface decoration of marquetry or lacquer, and was generally topped with a slab of decorative marble.

A commode of very similar proportions by Mattieu Criaerd, the maker of this commode, but with a surface of blue and white imitation lacquer, was supplied for Louis XV's mistress Madame de Mailly at the Château de Choisy in 1742. That commode is now in the Louvre Collection, Paris.

This object is on loan to Sewerby Hall.

Physical description

Commode, (decorative chest of drawers), decorated with marquetry of kingwood, tulipwood and other woods, with gilt-brass mounts, and a pink and grey marble top. The serpentine (curving) front contains two long drawers with a marquetry design of flower sprays against diagonally-placed wood grain which spreads across both drawers without a break. There is a downward curving apron at the front and on both sides. In the centre of the front apron there is a gilt brass plaque in rococo style. Each side is decorated with matched veneers and marquetry of flower sprays. Each of the four feet has gilt brass mounts.

Date

1750-1760 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Marquetry of kingwood, tulipwood and other woods, gilt brass mounts, marble slab.

Marks and inscriptions

CRIAERD (initial letter illegible)
Maker's mark, impressed twice in the wood of the top near the front corners. For Antoin? Criaerd, or his brother Mathieu Criaerd (1689-1779)

Dimensions

Height: 88 cm, Height: 85 cm without marble top, Width: 154.3 cm marble top, Width: 149 cm carcase, Depth: 67 cm marble top, Depth: 66 cm

Object history note

Mrs Arthur James bequeathed 52 pieces to the V&A including French and English 18th century furniture, mirrors, ceramics and silverware which were received by the museum in July 1948. The bequest was conditional on the collection being called ‘The Arthur James Collection, bequeathed by his wife.

The commode is stamped 'Criaerd' on the top of the left front leg (underneath the marble slab), probably Mathieu Criaerd, who was the most prominent cabinetmaker (ébéniste) of this name. He become a master in the Corporation des Menuisiers-Ébénistes in 1738, and set up his workshop in the rue Traversière-Saint-Antoine, in the heart of the furniture-making district in Paris. Criaerd specialised in furniture veneered with lacquer or with floral marquetry, with rococo mounts. There is physical evidence that the commode was substantially reworked before being acquired by the museum, including the surface decoration and mounts.

Descriptive line

French, 1750-60, kingwood, marquetry, 80/272

Materials

Marble; Kingwood

Techniques

Marquetry

Categories

Furniture

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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