This grand and distinctive piece of furniture from Northern Brittany is known as a “buffet malouin” and was created in the late 17th century. These types of cabinets were created for important homes in the historic port city of Saint-Malo. The design, with large octagonal molded panels, double colonettes, and finely cut brass fittings, is unique to other French furniture of the period. The design was directly influenced by the Dutch mariner carpenters living in Saint-Malo at the time (the Dutch beeldenkast cabinet shows similarities).
The large four-door cabinet was carved in oak, as was most of the other “malouin” furniture pieces. It is an imposing and impressive piece, standing over 7 feet tall and nearly 7 feet wide. The front of the piece has twisted, double colonettes, multi-profiled cushion-shaped octagonal panels, and finely cut brass key hole escutcheons, drawer pulls, and lozenge plates. There are 3 drawers, 2 of which are full sized, with a smaller drawer in the center. 3 large bun feet along the front hold up the entire piece, while 2 block feet support the rear.
Each door has its own functioning key and lock, with a yet another key for the center drawer. Door and drawer panels are solid and impressive old pieces of oak, which still open and close with ease, indicating the quality of construction and great care that this piece has received over the centuries.
The “meuble malouin” in the form of a large 4 door buffet is not often easily found. Research shows photos of several models in various states that have come to surface, but they were not nearly pervasive as French case pieces such as the Louis XV armoire, which was produced in the many hundreds or thousands from the 1750s up to the 1940s. Stylistically, this piece can be quite versatile, even working with contemporary.
CONDITION: Very good antique condition with wear commensurate to age and use including minor repairs over the years. Minor separations, rubs, and nicks.
H - 88 1/2, crown W - 80 7/8, body W - 73 1/4, crown D - 35, body D - 30 1/4
Le Louvre French Antiques
Rare 17th Century Oak and Brass 4-Door Buffet from Saint-Malo, France, C. 1690
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