Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Madame Victoire, Part II

I picked up Madame Victoire this morning. AND SHE IS MORE AWESOME THAN I THOUGHT.     (Usually, it is just the opposite and I have embellished the item)

I'm going to run through her good points to give you a glimpse into French Provincial commodes. First off, although I had originally thought that she was in walnut, upon further inspection, I believe that she is solid mahogany as a primary wood. Mahogany was imported to Europe from the colonies and being a foreign species is not subject to insect damage as is the softer native European walnut. Mahogany is also a much more dense wood (more difficult to carve) which means that the piece can withstand more wear and tear than the softer walnut. And this accounts for the fact that Madame Victoire is all original: her snail carved feet (very sexy feet) retain their original carving, although the feet on the front naturally exhibit more wear than the rear feet. A further note of quality is the fact that Madame Victoire has four fully carved snail form feet. The majority of Louis XV provincial commodes had block feet to the rear. Now let's look at Victoire's beautifully proportioned sinuous bombe form--it is perfectly balanced and with a curvy sensual figure. The three drawer fronts have beautiful crisply carved molding surrounds and a carved center cartouche for the escutcheon.

Moving on to study Victoire from the side, you can see that she is just as beautifully detailed as on her front. She has a molded drop at the bottom which matches the drop on the front and the snail feet are positioned in such a way as to be beautiful when view from the side.

Next we need to look at Victoire's jewelry. Because she is provincial, her jewels ar simple. I believe that the bronze hardware which she now wears dates to and was fitted to her in the 18th c., but originally she had more simple bronze or brass bail-type fittings. The bronze hardware is beautifully cast with great detailing and is in excellent condition.

And finally, we are coming to the condition of Madame Victoire--she is in really great condition considering her 260 years of use. The drawer sides, bottoms and locks are original, her patina is deep, although there has been some resurfacing. No major splits to the wood.

              (Yes, that is the tips of my foot)

Now, just to make sure that we are dealing with a period pieces of furniture, we have to looked at Madame Victoire's backside: Is it the appropriate type of construction? YEP. Are the back boards of the same wood and of the same level of patination? YEP. Are there any square nails or nail holes? YEP. 

**See how a fabric strip has been applied to the back--this is a really good sign of appropriate shrinkage and repair.


(I have no idea how or why the photos and text lined up like this--but it looks intentional and good, right?)

I am definitely improving--but this dragging photos business is for the birds......

Please let me know if I am boring you with these nit-picking details.... Until the next adventure....



  1. you blog posts look fabulous as the pics and text line up perfectly..your shoes are great too!!
    now on to the commode..she is quite the beauty, especially in mahogany...one of my favorite woods as it can be either a red toned or brown toned wood and so durable...love the carving on this piece..so exquisite...hope she goes to a good home soon..

  2. Hi Maureen, Thank you for being my cheerleader!! Be well. Mary