Alexander Roux (American, born France, 18131886; firm active New York City, 183680)
Rosewood, tulipwood, cherry, poplar, pine; 53 3/8 x 73 3/8 x 18 3/8 in. (135.6 x 186.4 x 46.7 cm)
Purchase, The Edgar J. Kaufmann Foundation Gift, 1968 (68.100.1)
Until the mid-1870s, furniture styles in America were largely influenced by European, particularly French, taste. Style was disseminated by European design books and fashion periodicals; the great international exhibitions, beginning with the London Crystal Palace in 1851; and immigrant craftsmen, who adapted their skills and artistic traditions to the American market. French-born cabinetmaker Alexander Roux was an ever tasteful proponent of the latest fashion, working in the 1840s in the Gothic Revival style, in the 1850s in the Elizabethan, Renaissance, and Rococo styles, and in the 1860s, as here, in the Néo-Grec style. Néo-Grec was an inventive combination of motifs from antiquity, the Renaissance, and the late eighteenth-century Louis XVI style, which was introduced in France and popularized by Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III, during the Second Empire (185270). The form of this cabinet is derived from an Italian Renaissance credenza, and its ornament, with delicate incising, gilt-metal mounts, rich marquetry panels, and porcelain plaques encircled by ormolu ribbons, is an eclectic combination of Louis XVI and classical motifs. The cabinet bears one of Roux's labels, which gives the addresses for the showrooms he used between 1856 and 1867, and fragments of a German newspaper, the New-Yorker Staatszeitung, dated September 22, 1866, were found behind one of the porcelain plaques.