A Rare Display Sideboard
Walnut, Ebony, Malachite, Patinated bronze
Height : 265 cm (8 ft. 7 in.) ; Width : 240 cm (7 ft. 9 in.) ; Depth : 55 cm (21 2/3 in.)
A finely sculpted two-part walnut sideboard with leaves motifs, with uncoupled pillars and Sciences and Arts attributes in medallions, the set colored by a malachite inlay and framed with black wooden mouldings.
The upper part opens with four glazed doors, as well as four plain doors in the lower part and eight drawers on the belt.
On the top of the cabinet’s cornice stands a patinated bronze figure of Lorenzo de Medici, attributed to the Ferdinand Berdinand workshops, after the statue of Lorenzo de Medici, sculpted in the 16th century by Michelangelo (placed on his cenotaph in the new sacristy of San Lorenzo church in Florence).
The low reliefs and other bronze ornaments of this sideboard, of very high standard quality, were probably cast in the workshops of Ferdinand Barbedienne after designs by Constant Sévin. Those designs had been already used successfully on a bookcase exhibited by Sévin and Barbedienne at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1867. Ferdinand Barbedienne (1810-1892) started one of the most famous 19th century artistic bronze casting companies. In addition to his personal production, he worked for famous artists such as Clésinger and Carrière-Belleuse. These artists production – as illustrated in their catalogue – varied from busts and ornamental sculptures such as clocks, candlesticks, sconces to decorations for furniture, as shown on the sideboard. Barbedienne’s production was always highly esteemed and he was, himself admired by contemporary art critics who compared him during the 1878 Universal Exhibition to a “prince of industry and the king of bronze-casting”.
Archives de la Documentation, Musée d’Orsay, Paris
19th Century European Furniture, Christopher Payne, p° 37
Les ébénistes du XIXe siècle, D. Ledoux-Lebard, Ed. de l’amateur, 1984, p° 228
Le mobilier Français, Napoléon III, années 1880, par Odile Nouvel-Kammerer, Ed. Massin, 1996, p° 39