Renaissance Style French Antique Buffet Cabinet or Dessert

Item 5183B by M. Markley Antiques


french antique cabinet fontainebleau style

(Scroll down for additional photos -- the variation in color is due to whether flash photography is used and the time of day the photos are taken.  The actual color of the cabinet is closest to the photo above.)

Item 5183B Renaissance Buffet Cabinet or Dessert

Width 48; Height 72; Depth 18 (in inches)

Wood Oak
Country France
Date Circa 1870
Price $2,368

This cabinet, relatively small in stature and with a marble top just above waist height, is called a dessert in French because it was designed to display desserts and keep them (relatively) cool by placing serving plates on a marble surface chilled by containers of ice at either end.  It was acquired by us as part of a set including Cabinet 5183A, its larger sibling, with which it shares many characteristics.  For more about the decorative elements they have in common, click here.

While the arabesque appliqués on the panels perpendicular to the marble surface resemble those used on Cabinet 5183A, they are not exactly the same.  Similarly, the arabesques on the door panels embody the same concepts but are more elaborate.  These variations on a theme provide a unifying force for the two pieces while highlighting the creativity of the designer in intriguing the viewer or owner by making the renditions distinct.

Lion-figures are used to support the front part of the cabinet and delineate the pot-board, as with Cabinet 5183A, but here the lions are smaller in stature owing to the shorter distance between the pot-board and the bottom of the case.  As with 5183A, we have replaced the rotted oak panel comprising the pot-board.

As a beloved and standard item in 19th century French dining rooms, the dessert owes its origins to the so-called Second Renaissance period where furniture makers in Lyon, France and the surrounding areas conceived this type of cabinet.  They created what was called an étagère or buffet de parade consisting of a horizontal surface on which to display dishes in the upper part, above two drawers, and including a pot-board as part of the base.  In the 19th century it became common to use a marble top for the main display area.  In this case, the marble appears to be original since it is reddish-brown and brightly veined, typical of many pieces of the period.  However, it has been glued to the cabinet – not by us – which may have caused the small crack on the left side.  This cabinet proves an exceptional reinterpretation of the original Lyonnais design.



In addition to those listed for Cabinet 5183A, see Ader-Tajan, Collection Bruno Perrier Haute Epoque Deuxième Vente (Catalog for Sale at Auction on December 7, 1993 at Hôtel George V, Paris).



With or without Cabinet 5183A, this small buffet cabinet is perfect for reinvigorating the French tradition of creating and serving delectable desserts.


french dessert cabinet


griffin ornamentation atop antique cabinet


acanthus scroll work on french antique cabinet


detail of acanthus leaf on french antique cabinet


applique ornament on french antique cabinet


marble top of french antique cabinet


antique drawer handle of french cabinet


carved lion support for antique cabinet


detail of carved lion


interior of antique dessert cabinet


Copyright ©2019 M. Markley Antiques.  All Rights reserved.