enamel paint on wood
44" x 42" x 19"
Throughout our experience we have always carefully avoided working on pieces that survive with original patina intact, or fine pieces that could be restored to original condition. That said, this beautiful tiger-maple Empire chest from the second quarter of the 19th century provided a rare opportunity to work both with an original finish and to provide new artwork, suggesting a piece rich in history.
Originally a five-drawer chest, early in its life the piece was altered into a dining room cupboard by the replacement of the two bottom drawers with two paneled doors. By the time I obtained the piece, the doors were damaged, missing the center panels and some of the stiles (the frame sections around the panel). However, the good news was that much of the old finish on the rest of the piece, although rough, was restorable.
After cleaning and restoring the finish on the body of the piece, I set to work on refurbishing the doors. This involved replacing the missing panels and three of the stiles, then grain-painting the new stiles to match the old finish. Finally, I could start painting on the new panels, now set off by the beautiful old finish.
The trompe l’oeil still life set within the “interior” depicts enigmatic objects from our personal collection which evoke the curiosities, both scientific and artistic, of the cabinet’s 19th century epoch.