Buffet

about 1800
Attributed to Pierre Antoine Petit dit La Lumière (died 1815)


Object Place: Vincennes, Indiana, United States

Dimensions

117.47 x 121.92 x 61.59 cm (46 1/4 x 48 x 24 1/4 in.)

Accession Number

1989.50

Medium or Technique

Yellow-poplar, curly maple, sycamore

On View

Joyce and Edward Linde Gallery (Gallery 237)

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Case furniture and boxes

By the late seventeenth century, French explorers had traversed what would become the state of Indiana, and by the end of the eighteenth century, French fur-trading posts and small settlements dotted the landscape of the Mississippi River’s upper valley, a large territory known as the Illinois Country. Vincennes was the principal settlement in the area. Its population of more than four hundred residents lived a surprisingly refined style of life that included silver spoons, jewelry, and silk clothing. Settled largely by immigrants from French Canada, Vincennes retained a distinctly French character in its architecture and material culture into the early nineteenth century.

This buffet is strongly reminiscent of French provincial furniture made in Normandy and elsewhere at a much earlier date. Its sturdy construction and decorative detail, including the form of the paneled doors, the carved sunburst ornament in the center of the skirt, and the shape of the curved skirt and feet, clearly align it with the style of Louis XV. It is fashioned, however, from local woods and retains its original finish of red ocher (iron oxide) paint enriched with streaks of a darker pigment.

This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.

Inscription

On an interior shelf, added in the mid-nineteenth century to replace the original: "From: / To Sisters of Providence / St. Marys, Vigo Co."

Provenance

Original owner unknown; acquired later by Saint Mary's of the Woods, Terre Haute, Indiana, founded in 1828, and owned there until the 1920s; later owned by Greg Spurgeon, Terre Haute, Indiana, and sold to Douglas Solliday, Columbia, Missouri; purchased from Solliday by the Museum in 1989 (Accession Date February 22, 1989) .

Credit Line

Gift of Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber and Frank B. Bemis Fund