Commode

Object Details

Title:

Commode

Artist/Maker(s):

Jean-François Oeben (French, born Germany, 1721 - 1763, master 1761)

Culture:

French

Place(s):

Paris, France (Place created)

Date:

about 1760

Medium:

Oak veneered with maple, tulipwood, amaranth, and Ceylon satinwood; gilt-bronze mounts; campan mélangé vert marble top

Dimensions:

92 x 140.6 x 47 cm (36 1/4 x 55 3/8 x 18 1/2 in.)

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Although the ébéniste Jean-François Oeben produced a number of similar commodes, this one's unusually short legs and shallow depth indicate that he probably made it for a specific location. The gilt-bronze mounts with motifs drawn from ancient Greece made it a commode à la grecque (in the Grecian style). Collectors at the forefront of fashion, such as Madame de Pompadour, Louis XV's mistress, admired the parquetry and the laurel leaves and guilloche motifs drawn from classical antiquity.

As he did in other works, Oeben fitted this commode with an ingenious locking mechanism, using one lock to control the whole commode. The side drawers in the frieze cannot be opened unless the center drawer has been pulled out slightly. A metal rod at the back of the drawer is then released, allowing the sides to be opened smoothly. Each of these drawers opens with circular pulls, cleverly corresponding to the guilloches in the gilt-bronze frieze.