The system of apprenticeship artisans and craftsman's training is still largely in place in France. Traditionally, a family would enlist their child (usually sons) to work for and learn from a Master cabinetry atelier, understanding it would take years of work and learning to eventually become not just competent, but also a Master, hopefully. The traditions are strong in France.The way these apprentices were tested to see if they'd mastered various levels of the craft was to have them produce scale miniature furniture pieces. From design to completion, even including hardware, this is how a trainee (apprentice) advanced and was given more skill instruction and experience. This is one of those apprentice miniatures.
Collectors of antique dolls, in particular, love these, but I do also for the wonderful display pieces they represent. The one you see here is 19th century, and the 3-drawer and desk-shelf chest would be in the era and style noted as "Louis-Philippe", which puts in c. Simple clean lines, moulding, wood grains and often plain hardware seen here is typical of that aesthetic.It is also a'test' of the simpler skills, and as such, you see the apprentice has used imperfect wood (I'm certain the old woodworm was there as it was crafted), rougher scrap wood for back and bottom. Very nicely done, dove-tails are tight and trim is nicely milled. The student has signed his work (see back: M 3), possibly meaning 3rd level. It is 13 long, full measurements noted on the photos. Very good to excellent for age and type. Interesting hidden shelf/drawer there at top slides in and becomes part of the moulding in a way rarely found in these - quite creative. No warping, all drawers slide smoothly and fit evenly and flat when fully in place. Hardware is all there, as well. Beautiful little chest with such a charming history! A one of a kind antique chest of drawers - Maitrise.
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