A fine and rare closely-matched pair of late-17th century oyster walnut chests on stands.
English, Charles II period, ca 1685.
Both with fleur-de-lys inlays bordered by holly bands. Superb colour and old patina throughout.
Stands restored. Brass mounts are correct for period but later.
Originating particularly in medieval France the fleur-de lys was later used by the Huguenots (fleeing persecution after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685), many of them came to England and were very highly-skilled tradesmen contributing considerably to the applied arts in England just at a time when culture in France reached a peak.
Charles II, on his restoration in 1660 (having spent much time at the French court during his exile), greatly promoted French, Dutch and Italian styles which, on his return, came to dominate English fashion.
The return of the king and his court from exile led to the replacement of the Puritan severity of the Cromwellian style, with a taste for magnificence and opulence and to the introduction of Dutch and French artistic influences. These are evident in furniture in the use of floral marquetry, walnut instead of oak, twisted turned supports and legs, exotic veneers, cane seats and backs on chairs, sumptuous tapestry and velvet upholstery, and ornate carved and gilded scrolling bases for cabinets. These chests date from that time, and clearly the use of the fleur de lys was influenced by the French cabinet makers who became well established in London.
Christie’s sold a similar William and Mary period chest @ £18,750 “with restorations and replacements”, 21 January 2010, lot 26.
Clevedon Salerooms sold a similar single antique oyster walnut chest, but without its stand, for £23,600 plus 15% premium, on September 2nd, 2000.