- Paris, c. 1750
- Carcass in oak with marquetry in satinwood, amaranth, boxwood and ebony; chased and gilt bronzes
- Inv. 2368A
- Charles Cressent (1685-1768)
This is a fine example of the work produced by Cressent, the famous ébéniste employed by the Duke of Orléans, Louis XIV’s nephew and regent when Louis XV was a minor. Cressent himself described the medal cabinet, which consists of two parts, as ‘worthy to stand in the houses of the greatest lovers of curiosities’. The upper part, in cupboard form, has two doors behind which are two sets of carefully numbered narrow drawers. The lower part, or stand, has a full-width drawer and a writing-slide to ‘hold cards with medals’, as the ébéniste himself said.
The main decorative motif, a magnificent piece of sculpture, appears on the upper part and shows three putti operating a coining-press that stands on a table. Two medals hang from this sculpted table: one with the bust of Louis XV; the other with a frontal image of the Dauphin and his wife, Marie-Joseph of Saxe. These are the obverse and reverse of a Louis XV medal that was minted in 1747 to commemorate the Dauphin’s second marriage. The entire motif is framed by herringbone marquetry and a bronze border, outside which are six pairs of medallions showing twelve Roman emperors. The legs are decorated with chased gilt bronze, showing busts of ancient warriors at the top and ending in claw feet.
Baron Alphonse Rothschild Collection. Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian through Hans Stiebel, New York, 1948.