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Pair of Louis XIII Ebony Carved Tondos

Pair of Louis XIII Ebony Carved Tondos


Status: Available

  • First Half of the 17th Century

  • Inv Number:
  • #2171


Each ebony tondo carved with Roman military scenes in low relief, set in gilt Florentine style frames. Formerly part of the front doors of a cabinet. With an old label at the back of the frame, Ernest Samson, Paris.
13 1/4in. diameter sight (the dimensions otherwise indicated include the frame).

These beautifully carved panels would have been part of the doors of a cabinet made to impress in a grand room in an aristocratic or royal setting. They reflect the changing taste in the first half of the 17th century for large sumptuous pieces for grand galleries and grand state apartments in royal and courtly interiors. It was not until the 17th century that France began to import exotic timbers from the Far East and South America and ebony was one of the first of these woods to be employed in cabinet-making. However, due to its rarity and cost it was almost exclusively used for veneering. French cabinetmakers who worked with ebony became known as menuisiers en ébène and later ébénistes. The carved and engraved ornament and ripple mouldings reflect the light on the glossy ebony surface. 

The subject-matter of these bas-relief carvings was inspired by prints with religious, mythological or literary subjects and naturalistic engraved motifs. According to Alcouffe 'These cabinets represent the synthesis of foreign (especially German) influences and traditions expressed in French Renaissance furniture' (p.54). Ebony cabinets were used to contain jewellery, documents and personal items. 

Daniel Alcouffe and others, Furniture Collections in the Louvre, Vol. I, Dijon, 1993, pp. 54-59.  

Agnès Bos, Meubles et panneaux en ébène, Le décor des cabinets en France au XVIIe siècle, Musée National de la Renaissance-Château d'Écouen, Catalogue, Paris, 2007.

19 1/2in. diameter