Crafted from kingoowd and mounted with beautiful ormolu mounts, this exceptional Vernis Martin side cabinet is the work of François Linke, the leading ébéniste of the French Belle Époque, and a maker of unrivalled skill and artistry.
It comprises a central storage space, decorated with a Classical scene that depicts a warrior, lying the ground, his sword and helmet strewn before him, looking up at a female figure in armour who gestures for him to rise for combat: she is probably the Greek warrior goddess Athena. This panel is framed with gilt bronze and crested with Linke's signature shell mount above. The sides of this meuble à hauteur d'appui (the French term for this type of cabinet), are lined with beautifully inlaid wooden panels, the direction of the grains and the tones of which subtly contrast and juxtapose to accentuate the cabinet's elegant design and structural form.
The cabinet is surmounted by a veined fleur-de-pecher marble top, above a leaf-and-dart and acanthus cast frieze. Female herms adorn the two frontal corners, their bodies tapering into foliate beams that extend to the base, which is mounted on lions' paw feet. The apron in the middle beneath the Vernis Martin panel is centred with a grotesque mask. The piece as a whole is very similar to examples by Joseph-Emmanuel Zwiener, a German-born ébéniste who likely collaborated with Linke, possibly employing him early in his career.
It is likely that this piece comes from later in Linke's career when he was an established master, as he often revisited earlier models and remade earlier designs, updating them with his own stylistic touches and idiosyncracies. This beautiful work succeeds in utilising and synthesising the full potential and aesthetic qualities of the materials used, to create a masterpiece of French interior design and craft.
Behind the lock mount the stamp reads 'CT. LINKE / SERRURERIE / PARIS', and the wood is stamped 'F. LINKE' five times.