M. Markley Antiques
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Antique Armoires
Renaissance, Louis XIII, Louis XIV

For prices, additional photos, and more information about each item, CLICK on the photo, plus check out our page of Recent Arrivals.

For more information about the history of armoires, scroll down below the photo gallery.

#3092 - Renaissance Style Armoire
#3092 - Renaissance Armoire
 

  5125-gothic-armoire
#5125 - Gothic Armoire

#5179-gothic-armoire
#5179 - Gothic Armoire or Cabinet
  

4191-half-armoire-cabinet-homme-debout-bonnetiere
#4191 - Half-Armoire or Cabinet
(Homme Debout or Bonnetière)

   

#9240 - Henri II Style Library Cabinet
#9240 - Henri II Library Cabinet or Display Cabinet
 

#9225 - bibliotheque
#9225 - Library Cabinet or Display Cabinet
  
 

#1017 Louis XIV Style Armoire (Reproduction)
#1017 Louis XIV Armoire
clearance price $2995
 

#1018 Louis XIII Armoire
#1018 Louis XIII Armoire

clearance price $2995

 #1014 - Louis XIII Style Armoire (Reproduction)
#1014 - Louis XIII Armoire

#1012 - Louis XIV Armoire (18th Century)
#1012 - Louis XIV Armoire
(18th Century)

  

 

#9202 - Henri II Style Display Cabinet
#9202 - Henri II Display Cabinet

About Armoires

Our Château des Bois CollectionTM of French antique furniture contains armoires dating from the 18th to the 20th centuries in Renaissance, Henri II, Louis XIII and Louis XIV styles in solid oak or walnut.  The collection includes a pair of matching bibliothèques or library cabinets with glass doors as well as a monumental Louis XIV armoire made in Provence in the 18th century.  Like their Medieval ancestors, these armoires are wonderfully versatile and command attention in whatever room they are found.

For centuries, armoires have commanded pride of place in French homes, treasured for their imposing presence and their ample storage capacity.  Like most categories of furniture, the armoire traces its ancestry to the chest, from a time as far back as the Dark Ages when some clever French person turned a chest on its end and shoved it against a wall so that the lid would swing open as a door.  The modern term "armoire" comes from the Latin word "armorium," or the chest that was used by Roman soldiers to store arms. From a cultural standpoint, this conversion from chest to armoire signals the beginning of a less nomadic and more prosperous lifestyle in which people no longer limited their furniture choices to whatever they could carry on their backs.

With war, pestilence, floods and crime as the common denominators of European existence for centuries, the armoire played a pivotal role in storing and protecting the possessions of its owner.  In this context, it is important to remember that until the 19th century industrialization of the textile business, items such as rugs, tapestries, curtains, clothing, tablecloths and bedding were extremely expensive and comprised the most valuable possessions of a household.  Therefore a richly carved and massive armoire was a fitting repository to preserve and protect these trappings of wealth.

During Gothic and Renaissance times, the armoire was less popular than its cousin, also descended from the chest, the bahut-deux-corps or two-piece cabinet.  Beginning with the reign of King Louis XIII in the 17th century,  armoires reasserted their dominance as the premiere category of furniture with bold designs featuring raised diamond patterns, Maltese crosses and other geometric shapes.  Louis XIV's reign saw the development of the largest armoires in walnut with massive architectural mouldings at top and bottom.  Because of their solid and sturdy construction, many of these survive to this day, particularly in Southern France. 

Most of our armoires date from the 19th century when France was swept by a passion for the revival of past styles such as Gothic, Renaissance (Henri II), Louis XIII and Louis XIV, leading  to re-interpretations of the armoire for contemporary use.  This gave rise to ingenious methods of construction so that armoires could be taken apart and re-assembled in rooms whose small doorways would not otherwise admit these giants.   Craftsmen employed stylistic elements characteristic of the earlier periods such as columns, mythological creatures, and intricately carved vegetation.  It was also the time when the bibliothèque or armoire with glass doors became popular for libraries and offices.

On a recent visit to France, a young woman told us of the huge Louis XIV era armoire in the living room of her family's fifth floor apartment in central Paris and how it was a treasured member of the family.  We asked if it was a problem moving it and she responded that she did not know - it had been in the same place for over 200 years!  Such is the reverence and affection reserved for armoires in France that, although they are rare, we are able to find them so beautifully preserved.

In the U.S., the armoire has enjoyed a Renaissance of its own, including conversion into an "entertainment center" or the home for a wide-screen television.  This has led to a scarcity of the larger pieces of particularly solid construction with ample interior space.

 

 

 

 
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