In French, arbalete means “crossbow” and is typically used to describe the shape of furniture when the frontage has been carved in a sinuous manner. When the profile is viewed from above, it resembles the European Medieval crossbow. In the case of this walnut commode from Provence, the form is double arbalete.
Two iron swag handles are affixed to each of the three stacked drawers by parted shell mounts. In between the pulls is a sinuous plate that surrounds a keyhole. Each drawer maintains the arbalete structure created by the thinly molded top. The apron is highly shaped, with many small arbaletes strung together. In the center is a gadrooned leaf and floret medallion surrounded by volute scrolls.
The sides are straight but consist of recessed rectangular panels with asymmetrical tops. Both aprons have been carved in a similar manner to the front façade, but without the central medallion. Beneath the aprons are a pair of block feet in the back. The front feet are cabriole-shaped with block pads.
All the arbalete edges and décor of this walnut commode were hand-carved by a French menuisier (carpenter) in the 1700’s. The dark finish and subtle ornamentation allow this commode to be used with a variety of interior styles.
CONDITION: Wear commensurate to age and use with age separations. Traces of old wood worm, which has resulted in losses. The keys are missing, but the iron hardware is still intact, with minor losses.
H - 32, W - 48 3/4, D - 24
18th Century Walnut Wood Crossbow Commode from Provence, France
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