An exceedingly fine work of art, this bookcase cabinet is of the highest quality, designed with a careful eye to form, function and longevity. Designed with an eye to the Louis XV period, it is a product of the turn of the century, crafted between the 1890s and 1910. By carefully designing the piece so that it can be taken apart into easily handled units, the cabinet has remained in nearly pristine condition over more than a century.
The crest is affixed with long bolts, these easily spun to release the top, whereby the doors can be removed by simply lifting them off of their hinges. The center is made up of seven individual panels, these locked in with tongue-in-groove joinery and secured with the same long bolts through the base. While it takes some time to put together, it allows the cabinet to be safely transported without fear of harm.
Notable in the work is the use of brilliant exotic kingwood veneers matched and cross-banded for dramatic angular effect. Crisp ormolu mounts embellish every major space across the facade, the crest particularly powerful with a complicated rocaille and foliate form. The doors open easily with an original key to give access to the bookshelves, these adjustable using a notched-bracket on either side.
The cabinet rests over slightly cabriole feet terminating in rocaille sabots.
Founded in 1856, the widely celebrated Parisian ébénisterie Frédéric Schmit, began producing furniture and decorative arts at 9, rue de Charonne in the center of the furniture manufacturing district: Faubourg St. Antoine. In 1870, the firm joined together to become Schmit, Alavoine et Piollet at 9 et 24, rue de Charonne in 1870. In 1874, the firm moved to 20 rue de Charonne and expanded into 22 rue de Charonne in 1876. They exhibited at the Exposition Universelle from 1878 through 1889 where they achieved gold medals in 1878 and 1889. It was around 1889 that the company became known as Schmit et Cie and continued trade into the twentieth-century.
The works of Frédéric Schmit and his firm are cherished and remain passionately pursued even today. At Sotheby's, his cartonnier bureau plat sold for $ 149,000 USD (October 29 2014, lot 114) while many dozens of his firm's other furniture works have sold through both houses for well into the five-figures.
Lockplate engraved "SCHMIT 2 R. DE CHARON. PARIS"
Reverse of cabinet with ink stamp reading "A MEUBLEMENTS (faded)... Cie, Paris, 22 Rue de Charonne"
Literature & Further Reading:
Le Mobilier Français du XIXe Siécle: Dictionnaire des ébénistes et menuisiers, Ledoux-Lebard, 2000, p. 572
Measurements: 84 1/2" H x 68" W x 16 1/2" D
Condition Report: Very minor flea-bite chips to veneer around edges in a few spots; fabric should be changed on the inside, being torn and stretched on sides where shelves tug at the fabric when moved and with a few spots of staining; shelves are tight and difficult to move due to the fabric being wrapped too thickly around the edges.
French Louis XV Style Antique Bookcase Cabinet Bookshelf by Schmit & Cie c. 1890-1910