Cabinet

  • Designer / Maker

    Manufactured by Charles-Guillaume Diehl (1811-circa 1885)

  • Detail

    Maple, ebony, rosewood, satinwood and various stained woods; silvered-galvanoplastie mounts

    136 x 120.6 x 45.8 cm

    French (Paris), circa 1870

  • Collection

    The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

  • Notes

    The present cabinet is a simpler variant of the bijoutier exhibited by Diehl at the Paris Exposition Universelle, 1867 (Philadelphia Museum of Art).

    Both these sumptuous néo-grec cabinets have in common the voluptuous ‘tête de femme coiffée à l’antique et couronné d’un diadème’ and the ‘medaillons antiques enchainés’ (gilded on the Philadelphia cabinet).

    The beautifully executed marquetry panel on the door depicts l’Oiseleur and was commended for having ‘tous les merites de la peinture, qui est comme une aquarelle délicate’ (see J. Mesnard, Les Merveilles de l’Exposition, Paris, 1867, pp.149-51).

    In 1840 Diehl arrived in Paris from Germany and established himself at 16, Rue Michel le Comte; he was later recorded at different numbers in the same street. By 1870 he was employing some 600 workers.

    Today Diehl is perhaps most admired for his remarkable creations in the néo-grec style, but he also produced Boulle-revival and neo-Rococo cabinets, as well as a multitude of coffrets (liqueur cabinets, games boxes, tea caddies, etc.). One of his most remarkable smaller-scale pieces is the superb néo-grec coffer with Imperial emblems, exhibited at the Paris Exposition Universelle, 1867 (see Jean-Marie Moulin, Guide du musée nationale du château de Compiègne, Paris, 1992, p.139).

    Arguably Diehl’s most extravagant creations are the medal cabinets designed by Jean Brandely, with bronzes by Emmanuel Fremiet; the version shown at the Paris Exposition Universelle, 1867, is now in the Musée d’Orsay, Paris and a second example is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

    There are two other néo-grec cabinets in the Musée d’Orsay (see Catalogue sommaire illustré des arts décoratifs, Paris, 1988, pp.76-77).