Fine Aesthetic Movement Walnut Breakfront Bookcase Cabinet
ITEM #: 905TPP11Z
FINE AESTHETIC MOVEMENT WALNUT BREAKFRONT BOOKCASE CABINET
Probably American, circa 1885; unmarked; beautifully restored
Item # 905TPP11Z
An inordinately fine Aesthetic Movement breakfront bookcase cabinet, this work of art was executed almost entirely in Black Walnut - even the drawer sides and bottoms, all interior shelving, the backboards and other hidden elements were crafted using this expensive native hardwood. The piece is a perfect combination of top-quality cabinetmaking with the artistic eye of a careful designer and the practiced hand of an expert carver. Every element is in perfect adherence to the Aesthetic atmosphere, a rejection of mass-production and an embrace of localized expertise.
The pediment borrows from the Gothic profiles but the motif is fresh with a distinctly Eastern influence - elements of wind, scrolling finials that stylize foliage and a tasteful top finial with relief decorated water-leaves surrounding a collection of berries. The cove molding is spaced with spheres, the minutely chaotic spacing of which is indicative of a craftsman who worked by feel and not by mechanics.
Perhaps most impressive in the cabinet is the series of extraordinarily intricate carved panels over each glass door and the larger panel of sunflowers in the triangular pediment. These are fully developed works of art.
The doors open with original locks and a single key to reveal adjustable shelved interiors. It is raised over a lower cabinet with a large open top with alcoves backed by raised-panels. The lower cabinet features four small drawers, each expertly hand-dovetailed with crisp pins and custom cast brass hardware. These are situated over two small doors flanking a larger central pair of doors, these each revealing shelved interiors. Note the sides of the case, which show a series of dovetails in recessed panels - these do not serve a joinery function and simply seek to amplify the consistent message of the piece: there is labor for subsistence and there is labor of love... here we labor for love - love of expertise, love of texture, love of distant cultures and love of art.
This piece was probably built into an alcove in a home at one point, as the last 5 1/4" of edge molding around the lower cabinet were removed and possibly the last 4" of the crest was removed (though we are not certain about that). This molding around the lower cabinet was lovingly restored for its original presentation.
Measurements: approx. 96 1/2" H x 56 1/8" W x 21 3/4" D
Entirely refinished and restored. Two replaced moldings at back corners of the top of the lower cabinet. Some dings/chips to top finial. Includes one working key. Strip of walnut applied to bottom edge of upper cabinet (where the paneled back touches the top of the lower cabinet). Reverse of the upper cabinet with a loss to the bottom edge. One old hole on either side of the upper cabinet. The rear corners of the crest on either side may have been reduced at one point, perhaps to fit a ceiling.