One of the great joys of working with antique furniture is the tangible nature of the pieces in our collection. Oil paintings, for example, do not invite frequent touching or handling, but furniture is a different matter. Furniture is meant to be touched, explored, and investigated. The walnut bureau bookcase we are sharing today is a fantastic example.
This exceptional George I walnut and parcel gilt bureau cabinet is a classic English furniture form. The molded broken arched cornice with carved giltwood finials stand above two conforming doors. These doors open to reveal pigeonholes, niches, and drawers. In the centre, a small cupboard with a beveled mirrored door is flanked by two fluted Corinthian columns. This cupboard can be opened to reveal a number of secret drawers. In addition to the top section, the bureau features a secretaire section. The slant front opens to reveal a writing surface and interior with further drawers and pigeonholes with a similarly decorated cupboard flanked by columns.
The base is arranged with three short and three long feather banded figured drawers standing on on bracket feet.
Exploring the bureau reveals a number of things about the way furniture has been used over time, and thinking about these historic functions helps us interpret interiors of the past: one of the main purposes of this blog. We will look at other traditional forms of furniture in future posts with a similar aim in mind.