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Francis I Renaissance Sideboard

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Francis I Renaissance Sideboard

- Item No.

This amazing dressoir was created 425 years ago during the reign of François I

Key Features

  • This incredible dressoir (sideboard) is over 425 years old, created during the French Renaissance
  • Two similar dressoirs are found in the famed Frick Collection and the Victoria and Albert Museum
  • The dressoir features dramatic, deep carving of walnut with an oak interior
  • Such a dressoir would have been used in a great dining hall to display objects of silver and gold

Item Details

  • Width:
    71 3/4 Inches
  • Height:
    65 3/8 Inches
  • Depth:
    23 1/2 Inches
  • Period:
    Pre-17th Century
  • Origin:
This astonishing 16th-century dressoir (or sideboard) was created in Lyon during the height of the French Renaissance, and is the only one of three known examples of its type created that is not held within a museum collection. Today, the pair to this dressoir is a prized possession of the famed Frick Collection in New York, and the third, similar yet smaller cabinet was found in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The most skilled artisans crafted the dressoir during the very first period of decorative furniture. The exterior is made entirely of walnut, with a sturdy oak interior. Comparable yet less sizeable examples of great French Renaissance pieces have been in the collections of The British Museum and The Louvre, and are featured in the important treatise on 16th-century furniture Le Meuble en France au XVI Siecle (The Furniture in France in the 16th Century). However, to the best of our knowledge, there has not been a cabinet of even remote similarity come up for sale anywhere in the world within the past fifty years. In terms of craftsmanship and condition, it is virtually impossible to comprehend that this dressoir was created over 425 years ago.

M.S. Rau Antiques' acquisition of this dressoir from a private collector is the culmination of over two decades of dedication and research. Paperwork we have discovered in the Frick Collection archives tells the fascinating tale of the pair to our sideboard, and in turn, gives us tremendous insight into the provenance of this dressoir. The matching dressoir, purchased by the legendary Henry Clay Frick, first reappeared in 1845 in a restorer's workshop in Marseilles. It is not certain if the two sideboards were still a pair at that time, but it seems very likely they were. The restorer stated that the furniture was in complete degradation prior to restoration by him. At this time, there is no doubt some new wood was used due to age and wood worm damage. This is not surprising at all as virtually all early furniture has had periods of neglect and damage. After expert restoration, our dressoir disappeared. It seems likely that with the smaller size of homes during this era, it would have made much more sense to split the pair and sell them as two individual pieces of furniture.

The Frick's dressoir eventually showed up in a major collection in Europe where it was eventually bought by famed English dealer Sir Joseph Duveen. This collection of furnishings ended up costing Duveen $1,500,000 dollars, and his purchase was reported by every major newspaper in the western world. The star of the collection was the "16th century cabinet" and Duveen immediately brought it to Number One 70th Street in New York for Mr. Frick's approval. Frick paid an incredible $110,000 for it in 1917. This is approximately $26,300,000 in 2010 currency (using the relative share of the GDP conversion table). That price puts the Frick dressoir as among the most expensive pieces of furniture ever to sell in the history of the world. When considering this, and the fact that our dressoir is in wonderful condition, with its doors and drawers still in outstanding working order, this dressoir is the absolute rarest, most important piece of furniture on the market today.

Circa 1580

71 3/4" wide x 23 1/2" deep x 65 3/8" high

The Encyclopedia of Furniture, 1965, Joseph AronsonWorld Furniture, 1988, Helena HaywardFurniture in The Frick Collection: Italian and French Renaissance, French 18th and 19th Centuries, Volume V, 1992, The Frick CollectionLe Meuble en France au XVI Siecle, 1923, Edmond Bonnaffé

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Price: $985,000
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