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A. Giroux

Cabinet-maker
(Active from 1799 until 1885)
(attributed to)

In collaboration with

F. BARBEDIENNE

Bronze-caster
(1810-1892)

An Exceptional Display Sideboard

Bearing the monogram F.B.

France
Circa 1855

Walnut, Marble, Gilded bronze
Height : 293 cm (115,4 in.) ; Width : 205 cm (80,7 in.) ; Depth : 60 cm (23,6 in.)

A finely sculpted two-part walnut sideboard with naturalistic motifs such as woodcocks, rabbits, partridges, and plants such as blindweed, wheat, oak, reed, hazel tree. The upper part constitutes a display window and the lower part, three doors and three drawers.

The set is adorned with vert de mer marble plates and highlighted with black-tinted wooden mouldings.

A gilded bronze bust of Diane de Poitiers, Favorite of King Henry IInd and attributed to Ferdinand Barbedienne, surmounts the cabinet’s cornice.

By the quality of its sculpture and naturalistic motifs, this cabinet can be attributed to Alphonse Giroux’s work and

Relates particularly to the sculptured wooden writing desk exhibited by Giroux at the 1855 Universal Exhibition in Paris where it was bought by the Empress Eugénie (now exhibited at the National Museum of the Palace of Compiègne and reproduced in « Le mobilier Français, Napoléon III, années 1880 », by Odile Nouvel-Kammerer, 1996, p.39).

Biography

Alphonse Giroux and Company, famous curiosity and luxury goods shop was situated at No. 7 rue du Coq-Saint-Honoré and in business from the time of the Consulate until the end of the Second Empire. The company was founded by Francois-Simon-Alphonse and continued in 1838 by his two sons, Alphonse-Gustave (1810-1886) and André (1801-1879). The father became a close associate of the royal family and specialized in the manufacture of refined items for gifts, winning a silver medal at the in 1834. Kings Louis XVIII and then Charles X were both supplied with gifts for « The Children of France » by Giroux. Making progressively small furniture, they were mentionned for the first time in 1837 in the class « cabinet-makers » in the Paris Almanach. It was Alphonse-Gustave, however, who really expanded the activities of the firm as is testified by the report of the jury at the 1839 Products of Industry Exhibition awarding him another silver medal. Alphonse was also quick to participate in the famous and soon figured among the best in the luxury goods business. After buying a writing desk at the 1855 Universal Exhibition Napoleon IIIrd bought several other pieces of furniture, candelabras and clocks from Giroux for the Compiègne Palace. In 1857 Alphonse Giroux transferred his shop to No. 43, boulevard des Capucines where he continued to do business until 1867, when he ceded the company to Duvinage and Harinkouck.

The low reliefs and other bronze ornaments of this sideboard, of very high standard quality, were 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 our 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”.

Bibliography

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.

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