An Exceptional Gilt-Bronze Mounted and Marquetry Armoire by Joseph-Emmanuel Zwiener.
Stamped ‘E. ZWIENER’.
Forming part of an important and very rare bedroom suite, comprised of an armoire, a double bed, and a dressing table , all with fine marquetry inlay.
This important and magnificent armoire exemplifies the furniture maker’s master artisanship and exhibits distinct similarities to another Zwiener bedroom suite, commissioned circa 1898 for Kaiser Wilhelm II, and which is now in the permanent collection of Schloss Charlottenburg in Berlin.
Zwiener’s work is remarkable for its organic, sculptural quality. In this he demonstrates a tendency toward the principles of combining the traditional Louis XV rococo style of the 18th century with the ultra-modern, contemporary Art Nouveau, representing a careful balance between decorative and compositional vocabulary, the stylish and the functional. In the present example Zwiener’s structures and end-cut marquetry celebrate nature’s melodic and flowing forms.
Zwiener’s innovations are apparent in the detailing on this bedroom suite, such as in the flowery gilt-bronze borders of the end-cut marquetry reserves of each of the pieces. A rose rests below a scallop-shaped crest of two doves on the swan-neck-form headboard, while a single hibiscus flower graces the footboard and cast foliate chutes of bare-breasted espagnoletes emerging from each corner. On the dressing table it is interesting to note Léon Messagé’s signature ‘wing’ appearing at the top of the swiveling mirror plate, identifying his work on the bronze designs of this suite, while foliate-scrolled candlearms emerge on both sides, and a cast foliate chute, headed by ram’s head, surfaces on each of the four table legs. The large armoire stands on six paw-footed legs and displays another scallop-shaped crest with a rose. Favoring the natural effects of inlaid work in the veneer, Zwiener designed his accompanying flower marquetry to be flat and with few sculptural illusions.