French Walnut Antique Chest with Renaissance Style Carvings

Item 3213 by M. Markley Antiques


renaissance revival chest

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Item 3213 Renaissance Revival Style Chest in Walnut

Width 37½, Height 28½, Depth 22 (in inches)

Wood Walnut
Country France
Date Circa 1890
Price $3,662

This chest, intricately carved from solid walnut, evokes the height of the period known as the First Renaissance (1490-1530) in France, and identified in particular with the reigns of Louis XII (1498-1515) and François I (1515-1547).  Stylistically, this era is characterized by the use of medallions of heads in profile sculpted within highly decorated wood panels comprising chests, armoires and dressoirs.  It has been speculated that this emphasis on personages, including clothing and headgear, paid tribute to the financial success enjoyed increasingly during this era, symbolizing the importance of genealogy and a family's entree into the bourgeoisie.

This chest is particularly unusual since, unlike its 16th century forebears, not only the front  but also the top are intricately sculpted with panels including heads in profile.  Each rendering is unique, a man and a woman, gazing at each other across a central panel.  Although we have not traced the images to any 16th century furniture, the characteristics are consistent with the styles of that epoch.  Overall, the style of carving of the six highly decorative panels (three on top, three on the front) also reflects the First Renaissance in its low relief and emphasis on vases, leaves, swirling stems and flowers, inspired by contemporary books of engravings from Italy.  Dividing and framing the decorative panels are elongated feathers signaling the dawn of an era characterized by fascination with feather headdresses from the New World.  Harking back to its medieval roots, however, this chest stands on sturdy bun feet.



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)



This chest is ideal in the usual role of blanket chest at the end of a bed but due to its height would also work well behind a couch or as an occasional piece in virtually any room of a home or office.

front left panel

front right panel


front center panel


left panel medallion

front right medallion


front central panel detail


chest top


top left panel

top right panel


top central panel


top left panel medallion

top right panel medallion


top center panel detail










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