French Chest with a Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi @Kinghams

French Chest with a Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi By Adrian Rathbone, Associate Director, Kinghams Auctioneers, Moreton-in-Marsh. 2nd July 2021

An item of antique furniture by one of the leading cabinet makers of 18th Century France is coming up for auction on 10th July.
The chest of drawers, or to use the correct term ‘commode’ was made during the third quarter of the 18th Century by German born master cabinet maker (ebeniste) Jean Francois-Oeben.
Oeben is credited with pioneering the ‘commode a la greque’ in question. As the name suggests the cabinet takes its inspiration from ancient Greece and comprises a breakfront white veined marble top over a mahogany base with triple frieze drawers above two long drawers all with internal bright cut engraved gilt locks and standing on elegant cabriole. Ormolu mounts and handles adorn the exterior. J. F. Oeben’s stamp appears on the upper part of the carcass.
This distinctive form of commode was almost exclusively supplied by les freres Oeben to two clients, the duc de Choiseul and Madame de Pompadour, the latter being Oeben’s most important client. In an inventory drawn up following her death in 1764, no less than seventeen commodes a la greque, all supplied by Oeben between 1761-1763 for the Chateaux de Versailles, Auvilliers and Menars. The importance of Madame de Pompadour’s patronage in the creation of this form of furniture is furthermore underlined by the inventory taken following Oeben’s own demise in 1763.
Consigned by a Yorkshire based private client who acquired the piece in the 1980’s, it carries a pre-sale estimate of £20,000-30,000 in Cotswold auctioneers Kinghams on 10th July.
For further information, please contact Adian Rathbone at Kinghams Auctioneers of 01608 695695 or email

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