Long an apprentice-training traditional, the Master Ebaniste, or Ebeniste (cabinet maker) would also take in his own students, or apprentices, to be trained up in the art and craft of furniture making. Those apprentices were tested by the assignment of making a scale model of furniture, varying in complexity depending on what stage of their long apprenticeship at which they were. In the intervening time, the apprentice worked at jobs appropriate to their skills in the atelier or workshop of the Master. Some think these miniature furniture pieces are doll furniture, but in fact this one is a maitrise, test project for one of those 19th century apprentices. After the furniture style of Louis XVI era, the student has displayed here the casting of the fronton and ornate trim, the creation of lock and hinges, and complicated casting of hot-laid glass in curved panels to fit the vitrine, as well as the serpentine frame and veneer work on curves. Quite a fine project, the 3-shelf vitrine is also lined in silk velvet. That these make fabulous antique furnishings sought after by antique doll collectors is just happenstance. They can exceed the costs of full-sized furniture similarly made, rare as they are. Each is a one-of-a-kind piece. This one has survived with elegance, likely was created between 1840-60. Curved front and sides tests the skill in design, mould and formation of glass that lets us know this is an upperclassman's work. Not too many years before this apprentice would gain Master status. Some are signed, but this one is not. Full measurements are noted on the photos.
Very good to excellent condition for age and type, there are a couple of flaws to note, but each fairly disappear in normal display: they are each ones that would be relatively easy to do restoration. We like to show the damage, though, prior to any restoration. I might well do it for this one if it stays with me for more than a few days or weeks. It's got that loss on top back corner, and there also is evidence of a crack there beneath the ornate cast fronton ornament. Unusual, no breaks to the serpentine formed glass panels, and no veneer losses, no missing trim - much harder restorations. Ready to be display case for your portrait miniature collection, jewelry collections or other smalls like micro mosaics. Light from sides and front make those upper shelves wonderful for such display. And you Bru and other antique doll collectors, what a fabulous find, just in from France. Don't miss it.