Polychrome-painted armoires

Furniture with polychrome painted decoration remains one of the distinctive features of Alsatian production, even though the tradition seems to have come from Central Europe and items of this type are equally common in Italy. This armoire, with its sinuous “gendarme’s hat” cornice, is dated 1819, which was probably the year of its owners’ wedding. Their names are written on either side: Siegmund Ropp and Catharine Danhart.

Pieces like this, which were traditionally made for weddings, provided the basic furniture for the home. The wood is covered in reddish-brown paint to imitate dark wood veneers, whilst the decoration of the doors combines floral and geometric motifs: the upper and lower panels are painted with bouquets of flowers, whilst the central panels contain a red St Andrew’s cross against a backdrop of latticework.

This polychrome-painted armoire took inspiration from the models provided by sophisticated cabinet-making, and the Louis XV style in particular, as can be seen in the sinuous cornice, providing an illustration of the influence of these forms on the popular arts.

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