Aesthetic Movement Display Cabinet
Signed G. Viardot and dated 1888
Height : 166 cm (65 1/3 in.) ; Width : 67 cm (26 1/3 in.) ; Depth : 44 cm (17 1/3 in.)
A beautiful Japanese-style display cabinet made in carved and engraved tinted alder. Consisting of an open showcase at the upper part, framed by ornated pilasters and fitted with two asymmetric shelves. At the lower part, under a Japanese style engraved motifs drawer, a door opening on a shelf is beautifully decorated with an ivory inlaid panel with a bird perched on a branch of bamboo. The unit is tastefully decorated with decorative carved and openwork wood elements and “old gold” bronze ornaments such as ornamental fittings and especially the dragon drove out of hiding on the pediment of the cabinet, which is truly the artistic mark of Gabriel Viardot. This display cabinet stands on a base and four feet carved with geometric windings.
Gabriel Viardot career began as a wood carver and he produced small furniture, sculpturally carved with naturalistic motifs and animals. In the 1855 Exposition Universelle in Paris, his finely sculpted objects were well received. However, with the increasing importation of similarly produced Swiss and German articles, he found less opportunity for these and decided to inovate. G. Viardot succeded to his father’s business in 1861 installed rue Rambuteau in Paris. Around 1870 he turned to the idea of producing « Meubles genre Chinois et Japonais ». The taste in Europe for exotic furniture, incorporating sometimes authentic Chinese or Japanese objects was well established. But Viardot early designed his own models enriched with ivory, mother-of-pearl and beautiful gilt-bronze mounts. After having won four medals at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1867, Viardot was awarded a silver medal at the 1878 Universal Exhibition in Paris. He was also awarded gold medals several times : Universal Exhibitions in Anvers (Belgium) in 1884, and again in Paris in 1889 and 1900. A contemporary commentator notes that he had a workshop employing approximately 100 men, both sculptors and cabinet-makers with another 25 to 30 outside contract workers. « l’Escalier de Cristal », the famous Parisian offering luxuruous furniture got the exclusivity to use their own stamp on six Viardot’s furniture models.