French Neoclassical windfall fashionable; likely valuable
Q. My parents recently downsized their home and they gave me a few pieces of their antique furniture. This buffet is one of the pieces. Unfortunately it does not match my decor so it’s sitting in my garage. Can you tell me more about it? Should I make it fit in?
A. Your buffet appears to be French. You have not shared the size with me or if there are any markings or labels but it appears to be from the late 1890’s-early 1900’s. The inlay, marquetry and ormolu (cast brass or bronze decorations), curved front and marble top are all indicative of the Louise XVI or “Neoclassical” style which first appeared in late 1760’s.
Marquetry is the term used for creating patterns and pictures on furniture through inlaid veneers. Some of the greatest marquetry pieces of furniture ever made were produced in Paris during the 18th century for the royal family and other wealthy clients. Exotic woods, tortoiseshell, and mother of pearl from the tropics arrived in Europe offering endless opportunities for furniture artisans to create these incredible “paintings in wood.”
Current trends in design magazines all show furniture with Neoclassical influences. Your buffet seems like it needs some minor repairs but I found some similar being sold by dealers in the $2000 range. I do not know if the top part of yours is removable. This may give you options for other rooms in the house you may not have considered.
Karen Waterman is a fine art, antique furniture and decorative arts appraiser in the East Bay area and will answer as many questions about your own “hidden treasures” as possible. By sending a letter or email with a question, you give full permission for use in the column. Names, addresses or e-mail will not be published and photos will be returned if requested. Send e-mails (digital photos are encouraged) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Send snail mail to East Bay Newspapers, Att. Karen Waterman, P.O.Box 90, Bristol, RI 02809.