National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Chest of Drawers (commode) Jean Desforges (cabinetmaker)
French, active c. 1739
Chest of Drawers (commode), 1745/1749
veneered on oak, mostly stained black, with panels of Japanese black-and-gold (_togidashi_) lacquer; gilded bronze mounts; marble top
overall: 83.7 x 147 x 61 cm (32 15/16 x 57 7/8 x 24 in.)
Widener Collection
On View
From the Tour: Rococo Decorative Arts of the Mid-1700s
Object 2 of 7

Panels of black-and-gold lacquer sprinkled with metallic powders (togidashi) were removed from Japanese screens or cabinets and applied to this Parisian chest of drawers, the body of which is stained a matching ebony. The Japanese lacquer panels depict gardens and lakes with ladies and fishermen.

Eighteenth-century Europeans used the French term lachinage to describe their fascination with all things Oriental, including the Chinese porcelains they collected so avidly. Today's word for imported or imitated Japanese and Chinese objects, chinoiseries, did not appear in print until 1848.

The commode bears the initial C surmounted by a crown on all its gilt-bronze mounts. This legal mark on metals with a copper content was used only from 1745 to 1749. The oak body is stamped DF, which has been traditionally identified as the mark of Jean Desforges. A recent proposal, now being studied, attributes this chest to Joseph Baumhauer. The anonymous DF might then be a dealer or cabinetmaker who sold or repaired the works.

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