Gothic Cabinet with Heraldic Motifs Including Fleurs-de-Lys

Item 4185 by M. Markley Antiques



Item 4185

Gothic Cabinet with Coats of Arms


Width 50, Height 85, Depth 20 (in inches)


Solid oak




Circa 1880


It is hard for us to resist any furniture combining Gothic elements with fleurs-de-lys and heraldic motifs, crests or a coat-of-arms.  So when we encountered this piece in France, we knew it would find its way to the Chateau des Bois Collection.TM

The overall structure of the cabinet is an octagonal dressoir, stemming from early furniture makers' innovative placement of a chest on top of a table - hence the cabinet on top with the open, display area below - to invent one of the earliest cabinet designs.  In this case there are two levels of cabinet above the open area or "pot board."

The uppermost part of the cabinet has two doors, each with the same central design of a shield with a fleur-de-lys topped by a stylized crown with three flourishes in the shape of a flower within an ogive arch framed by a rounded arch containing mouchettes and other carved elements of tracery or fenestrage.

The lower cabinet part has a single, central door with a similarly shaped shield but different symbols.  Thus far the crest on this central door has stumped us - it is the first time we have seen the fleur-de-lys depicted diagonally and with the flower in the upper field.  Framing the central door are two matching panels of beautifully carved tracery - two four-pointed flowers or soufflets surrounded by ovals subdivided into mouchettes.  Variations on this theme are seen on the sides of the cabinet and reflect its importance (and extra expense) as a piece of 19th century furniture designed to be the star attraction of a reception room or great hall.  Otherwise these side panels would have been blank or filled with a design less time-consuming to execute, such as plis-de-serviette or linen-fold panels.

Particularly striking and unusual are the intricately carved pilasters supporting the middle cabinet and repeated at the corners of the middle and upper parts of the cabinet as well as between the two doors of the upper cabinet.  They serve to unite the design and call attention to the architectural origins of Gothic furniture design in general and this cabinet in particular.

The fleur-de-lys appears again in the bottom section of the cabinet as a central, heraldic ornament in a beautifully carved, open-work canopy framing the top of the base or pot-board.

Balancing the elaborate framing of the potboard is the crest-rail atop this cabinet, executed in the intricate tracery design used for 14th century cabinets designed to hold treasured vestments and other textiles in Gothic cathedrals.  At the front corners, the crest-rail is anchored by two substantial blocks topped by elaborately carved finials in the shape of a flame or "flamme," as this flamboyant Gothic style has been dubbed.



Ader-Tajan, Collection Bruno Perrier Haute Epoque (Catalog for Sale at Auction on April 6, 1992 at the Hôtel Drouot, Paris); Boccador, Jacqueline, Le Mobilier Français du Moyen Age à la Renaissance, Editions d'Art Monelle Hayot (Saint-Just-en-Chaussée, 1988); Thirion, Jacques, Le Mobilier du Moyen Age et de la Renaissance en France (Editions Faton, Dijon, 1998); Viollet-le-Duc, Eugène, Le Mobilier Médiéval (Georges Bernage, editor) (Editions Heimdal, 2003)



 This cabinet is meant to be the center of attention, preferably with specialty lighting, so its magnificence and the intricacy of its details can be admired most fully.


fleur-de-lys panel


tracery with flower


cabinet with coat of arms


lower cabinet with fleur-de-lis



side detail with tracery 


cabinet detail with tracery 


finial with leaf


fleur de lis detail


interior of gothic cabinet fleur-de-lys


middle interior


upper interior


french antique gothic style cabinet with fleur-de-lis


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