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Languedoc cabinet from the 17th century: History of Solomon
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Sur demande € (port +200€)
Armoires, Renaissance, XVII

Rare figured cabinet from the Bas-Languedoc region.

This type of cabinet is part of a select group of richly carved regional furniture representing the social and financial success of the 17th century nobility and upper middle class.

We present here a summary description of this piece. We strongly encourage the reader to consult the complete file with many photos and details by clicking on the following link:

Présentation de l’armoire biblique de Salomon en dossier PDF

In the 17th century, Bas-Languedoc was a crossroads of artistic movements, between northern Europe and Italy. In the context of the economic development of this region, the wealthiest nobility of dress called on master carpenters and master sculptors of talent to produce a few copies, all unique, of these impressive cabinets also called cabinets in the 17th century.

Some of these pieces are notably kept at the Musée du Vieux Nîmes. We will quote Martine Nougarède, Chief Curator of the said Museum: these Languedoc cabinets are “… rare, produced for a fixed period of time, frequent in a limited region, most of the time made in walnut with historiated decorations very rich in bas-reliefs [… ] they have all the criteria that make up the value of a regional piece of furniture. "

Presenting mythological or biblical themes such as Genesis, the story of Jacob, the life of the Virgin… The one we are presenting has as its theme the story of Solomon. Note that each theme was chosen by the client of the Cévennes cabinet according to his personality and could translate the values ​​that the family clan wanted to put forward.

This figured cabinet is part of the category of historiated cabinets, which stand out from their peers which simply present a plant decoration. In richly molded, carved and openwork walnut, it presents a large number of relief sculptures. The structure is divided into a central part composed of 6 panels tracing the biblical story of King Solomon on two doors. These two doors are framed by richly carved frames and a false sleeper over their entire height. The cabinet has at its top a cornice and an abundantly openwork pediment.

The decorative repertoire is rich, expressive, abundant. Its main objective is to impress, to recall the owner's success as well as his prestige. The dormers are carved with falls of flowers and fruits, putti and surmounted by busts of Atlanteans and hamadryads that recall the productions of Hugh Sambin. The cornice is decorated in bas-relief with putti in acanthus scrolls and two musical cherubs. The pediment has in its center a laureate medallion representing the coronation of Christ by Saint John the Baptist and God the Father, surmounted by the dove Holy Spirit. This medallion is framed by female busts nursing cherubs in a decor of cornucopias and foliage of fruit. At the ends two angels sound the trumpets. Finally, the whole is crowned with two musical cherubs and a bouquet. The sides are single paneled, one of the features of Sumène's cabinets detailed in the complete file.

The scenes from the life of Solomon are partly taken from the engravings of Nicolas Chapron, themselves made from paintings of the Vatican Lodges by Raphael. This is an important source of inspiration for the master sculptors of the 17th century. Note that the chronology of the scenes in Sumène's cupboards is rarely observed.

From left to right and top to bottom:

1.The Judgment of King Solomon.
2.Solomon welcomes the Queen of Sheba to Jerusalem, who brings her a large number of gifts including gold.
3.The prophet Elijah, whose ministry takes place immediately after Solomon's death, is supplied by the ravens.
4.Hiram, King of Tire, sends his messenger to Solomon to inform him of his participation in the construction of the Temple thanks to his wood resources.
5.The construction of the Temple of Solomon.
6.The anointing of Solomon by the priest Zadok.

The theme of the Judgment of Solomon is particularly popular with the legal professions. This can give us a clue about the nature of the sponsor of this Cévennes cabinet.

This biblical cabinet has all the characteristics of an extremely rare piece on the market. A historiated wardrobe, it is one of the first productions with refined sculptures intended for an elite clientele, it is not simply adorned with plant decorations. The room was not made up of different elements as we have seen on some quality furniture in the tradition of Languedoc wardrobes but which have undergone modifications or have been assembled. Unlike other Cévennes cabinets, the one we present has its pediment surmounted by all the elements originally present, such as cherubs or the bouquet. We can assume that the fragility of the pediment and the height of these cabinets are the cause of a customary absence of these elements in height. It should be noted a reinforcement of the pediment as well as some usual restorations on the side parts of the leaves at the level of the upper hinges, another customary restoration at the right angle of the lower cross member as well as the end of the angel's trumpets. winged.

Height: 285 cm
Width: 183 cm
Depth: 58.5 cm


-Middle Ages and Renaissance furniture in France by Jacques Thirion.

-The figured cabinets of Bas-Languedoc by Martine Nougarède, Pascal Trarieux, Laurent Puech, Daniel Travier, Alexandre Cheval and Jacuqes Thirion.

-Provencal furniture by Edith Mannoni.

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