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Antique Gothic Cabinet 5112A with Elaborate Tracery and Guard Dogs


antique cabinet guard dogs
Item 5112A - Width 58, Height 110, Depth 22(in inches)
Wood - Oak
Date - Circa 1880
Country of Origin - France
Additional photos below text

This imposing Gothic buffet cabinet was once part of a dining room set with the other items numbered 5112. It is unusually tall, crowned by a large finial with a flourish of oak leaves, symbolic of the wood from which it is made and whose intricate carving is some of the loveliest and distinctive we have seen.

For lovers of furniture celebrating the fenestrage or tracery used in the decoration of medieval buildings, this piece is, literally, over the top — taller than any we have offered and topped by a curved canopy as the base for a crown of open tracery and finials.

In overall design, this cabinet does not follow the usual format. Instead of a large case filling the entire upper space, such as 4117 or 4185, this cabinet has a small case, set back from the front plane but descending into the central area so that the bottom part of this small case is framed by two drawers with open space above them. On either side of the case and forming part of the back panel of the cabinet are two magnificent fenestrage panels combining sets of four lancet arches, in pairs within pointed arches encased within rounded arches. The center of each of these panels is a variation on the soufflet (quatrefoil with opposite pointed ends) that is broad and encloses sweeping, crocketed shapes based on mouchettes (a shape based on a candle snuffer), on the left, and quatrefoils, on the right.

Atop these central soufflets and four pairs of shorter lancet arches on either side of a fleuron in the Flamboyant Gothic style (referring to the flame-shaped ornament used to crown the ogee or graceful "S" curve found in late Gothic architecture).

This same element is repeated in the doors of the small case in this upper section of the cabinet. Also repeated are the lancet arches in the lower and upper parts of the panel but with the elongated soufflet surrounding crocketed circles - again, not identical but rather variations on a theme.

Atop this small case are the paired hounds that we find so endearing.  The dogs, approximately 7 inches tall, are seated on their haunches, on square "cushions" at the corners of the case. Above eye level of most viewers of the cabinet, looking outward and slightly upward with the mouths open, it is as if they are warning us about opening the cabinet on which they sit. While not identifiable as any particular breed, they are sculpted with anatomical accuracy and toes curling over the front of their "cushions."

The middle section of the cabinet is hexagonal in shape with two door panels for the opening of the cabinet and two elaborately carved panels at angles, comprising the sides of the cabinet. Again, the design is "flamboyant" with central ogee arches terminating in the stylized fleur-de-lys.

That these side panels are unique tracery designs, instead of the more common plis-de-serviette motif, is one of a number of factors leading us to believe that this cabinet was a commission — probably from a dog lover. The side panels are separated from the front doors of the cabinet by elaborate crocketed finials of the type incorporated into the spires of Gothic buildings.

The bottom portion of the cabinet is a traditional pot-board or open shelf with columns supporting the central section of the cabinet. The shape of the potboard is hexagonal, tracing the outlines of the central section of the cabinet.

Even the hardware conforms to the Gothic theme. The hinges are long and slender, with crocketing and ending in a circle. These same motifs are mimicked in the key escutcheons. The two drawer pulls are in a four-pointed, highly decorative design with handles in the shapes of oval torsades. The elaborate hardware is the perfect complement to the elaborate carving of the doors and panels.

In great condition, with all its parts functioning, this cabinet is a feast of Gothic design and evidently created for a lover of the motifs that make this one of the loveliest and largest examples of cabinets evoking this style.

We would like to think that some inspiration was drawn from the series of 15th century illuminated manuscripts in the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal in Paris depicting scenes from the wedding of Renaud de Montauban. In the last picture at the bottom, the famous scene of the wedding feast reflects a tall, canopied buffet cabinet and a dog, similar to the one on this cabinet, takes center stage as he follows the platter of meat. In the miniature, furniture has pride of place, covered in textiles to show off the family silver (or possibly wedding gifts).

This buffet cabinet follows in such a grand tradition, right down to the dog!


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, following 15th century practices, and used as a buffet cabinet in a grand dining room.

5112a-top of gothic cabinet with guard dogs
5112a-middle of gothic cabint with guard dogs
5112a-tracery with lancet arches
5112a-spire on gothic cabinet
5112a-spire at corner of gothic cabinet
5112a-oak leaf carving on finial
5112a-gothic spire with crocketing on cabinet
5112a-carved dog on gothic cabinet
5112a-detail of carving of dog's head on gothic cabinet
5112a-interior of canopy on gothic cabinet
5112a-detail of tracery
5112a-doors on gothic cabinet
5112a-tracery on gothic cabinet
5112a-column capital on gothic cabinet
5112a-detail of gothic tracery on door panel
5112a-hardware on gothic cabinet
5112a-strap hinge on gothic cabinet
5112a-linenfold panels on potboard of gothic cabinet
5112a-side view of gothic cabinet
5112a-angled patterns of gothic cabinet
gothic cabinet in marriage of arnaud de montauban