The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Chest-of-Drawers
  • Attributed to Bernard Molitor (1755 - 1833)
  • France
  • c. 1788
  • Oak, veneered with mahogany, gilt bronze, brass locks, steel springs in side drawer compartments, Carrara marble top, gilt-bronze and steel key
  • Object size: 85.8 x 143.3 x 57.3 cm
  • Inscription: 'Gauche' In pencil
  • F249
  • Dining Room
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Called a 'commode à vantaux' (to denote a chest-of-drawers with doors), this is attributed to the ébéniste Bernard Molitor (1755-1833) on the basis of the fastidious workmanship which is characteristic of his oeuvre and of certain gilt-bronze mounts that are also found on pieces stamped by him, such as the frieze drawer mount with the chaplet of lilies-of-the-valley framing the keyhole and the ivy spiralling around columns at the front corners. Since it lacks a stamp, it may well be one of his earliest works and dated to the beginning of his career as an independent cabinetmaker.
    It is, however, close in style to a number of pieces by Riesener and was probably made when Molitor was still established in the Cour de l'Orme of the Arsenal, near the Riesener workshop, before he moved to the rue de Bourbon in the summer of 1788. Similarities to work by Riesener include the frieze mount, the spiralling ivy around the legs and the way in which the waterleaf borders around the main mahogany panels have indented corners with rosettes mounted outside. The tripartite front is also influenced by Riesener designs.
    The mahogany veneers have been chosen with utmost care and reflect the evolving interest in plainer wood finishes rather than marquetry, a fashion that was in large part due to the Anglophilia of the 1780s. The white Carrara marble used for the top and side shelves was also characteristic of this refined neo-classicism.