This French Empire commode with flame mahogany and gilded bronze ornamentation is in fantastic condition. It is a perfect example of the type of chest of drawers that became popular in the early 1800s. Craftsmen, commissioned by Napoleon, were instructed to ignore opulent styles of 18th century monarchs. Napoleon preferred décor that drew inspiration from ancient civilizations, such as Greece, Rome, and Egypt. Empire furniture is typically linear and symmetrical, evoking images of classical architecture from these early cultures.
Hand-carved circa 1820, the commode was embellished in mahogany veneer with a beautiful flame pattern. Equally as stunning are the pair of bronze swan pulls that are affixed to each of the three stacked drawers. The birds have a necklace of beading and are surrounded by curled and scalloped leaves dotted with florets. It’s interesting to note that the swan motif was a favorite of Empress Joséphine. Swans decorated her furniture, rugs, porcelains, and more. In between these swan pulls is a roughly circular keyplate consisting of a foliate and floral display above a curled ribbon banner.
A 7/8” thick marble with cream veining sits on top of cavetto molding, known as Egyptian cornice. Beneath the molding is a full-length drawer that doubles as the frieze. There are no pulls, but because the drawers below are inset, the top drawer can be opened via recessed handholds on the underside. Each corner of the frieze/drawer is adorned with a gilded bronze palmette and rinceaux mount. Directly beneath the foliate ornamentation is a graceful corbel festooned with a large bronze leaf. On each side of the bracket is a gilded floret with a curled leaf tendril. At the base of the corbels is a palm frond above a volute leaf. Beneath each corbel is a ¾ bun foot with rounded edges, while the back feet are full blocks.
The unique grain pattern on the veneer, coupled with the soft curvature of the corbel front and the gilded bronze mounts make this a lovely addition to any home. Paired with the thin and angular marble top, this exceptional French Empire commode can be placed in an entryway, bedroom, or living room.
CONDITION: Good strong antique condition with minor nicks and losses to wood veneer. Light buildup to bronze mounts and fleabites to marble. Minor fills and repairs to the drawer interiors, with staining to the top drawer. No key.
H - 37 1/4, W - 53 1/4, D - 24
Exceptional French Empire Commode in Flame Mahogany with Swan Pulls, Circa 1820
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