The design of this armoire deux corps a dcrochement relates to one illustrated in J. Boccador, Le Mobilier Franais du Moyen Age a la Renaissance, Saint-Just-en-Chausse, 1988, p. 255, fig. 192, which depicts Charity to the central door, flanked by Justice and Abundance, while the lower doors depict Faith and Hope. Another with the same, very unusual, central narrow drawer dividing the upper section with its large central door flanked by two narrow doors, from the lower section with two doors was sold Ader Tajan, Paris, 6 April 1992, lot 28. That armoire was more deeply carved and believed to be from southern Burgundy and from the second half of the sixteenth Century, while this lot is probably from neighbouring Lyon. Two further meubles deux corps of similar structure, with the central drawer dividing the top from the lower section and also from Lyon were in the Spitzer Collection and illustrated in E. Molinier, ed., La Collection Spitzer, Paris, 1891, II, pls. VI and IX (meubles et bois sculpts).
The Interpretation of the Ornament
This cabinet celebrates Love's Triumph in antiquity with a bas relief of the 'Judgement of Paris', derived from the History of Troy and Homer's Odyssey. Mercury, Jupiter's messenger, attends as Paris, the Trojan Prince and shepherd, chooses Venus rather than Juno or Minerva and presents her with the apple. The scene is flanked by pilasters, festooned with ribbon-tied trophies of weapons alternating with fruit and flowers, and symbolises a golden age with agriculture flourishing with the laying aside of arms. The Triumph of Neptune, and the Element of Water, is celebrated in the recessed wings, whose Doric tablet aprons display Venus' triumphal shell badge. Doric columned niches display the trident-bearing water-deity astride a sea-horse; while his love, the water-nymph Amphitrite, bearing a water-pouring urn, stands in a dolphin-drawn shell. While flower-bearing figures perch above the triumphal-arched niches, Venus' dolphins attend the fruit festooning the bases. The base of the triptych is carved with sea-horses accompanied by Neptune's celebrating tritons. The cabinet and its commode base are inlaid with tablets and medallions of black gesso and are similarly carved with foliage. The base, with a frieze enriched with garlanded trophies of weapons, displays a rustic wedding of a shepherd and shepherdess attended by regal figures. The latter no doubt, intended to recall the popular 'modern' story of Gombeaut et Mace, depicting the pastoral life and the joys of youth.