Dressoir de Joinville
This piece of furniture comes from the Château de Joinville (in Champagne), property of Claude of Guise, brother of the Duke of Lorraine (1496-1550). The latter, a comrade-in-arms of François I, reached the rank of Governor of Champagne in 1524, the date inscribed on the dresser. Claude of Guise must have ordered a rich set of furniture that corresponded to his new rank. In the 16th century, the dresser was covered with a cloth, placed next to the buffet, near the table of the banquet. Its function is close to that of the ceremonial buffet: there are two ostentatious pieces of furniture linked to the social obligations of the host who had to display his riches and honour his guests. The buffet like the Italian credenza (sideboard, dresser) is an assembly of shelves placed in tiers and covered with a high-quality fabric, usually white, meant to present a set of ceremonial pieces or a service. Though the buffet and the banquet table were simple pieces of ephemeral woodworking, the dresser is more timeless and, equipped with doors, it would stay in the great hall or in the bedroom once the meal was over. The word dresser was used to refer to an elaborate, sculpted piece of furniture where tiers were placed to present the ceremonial tableware permanently. The main body of the dresser fitted with shelves and doors was for putting away this precious tableware. The Joinville dresser made its way to us without its tiers removed during previous restorations. The feet, decorated with patterns and folds were most likely made in the 19th century. On the other hand, the upper part decorated with vegetal rinceaux and profile medallions is characteristic of the “first French Renaissance” that progressively integrated antique decorative motifs into all domains of art.