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European Cabinets

Originally conceived in the medieval era, cabinets remained low-key, almost exclusively practical pieces until the stylish French put their mark on the furniture pieces. The French dressoir, a precursor to the dressers used for clothing storage, lived in the dining room. These early cupboards were little more than trestle tables with shelves on top, forerunners to modern hutches and china cabinets.

With the perfection of woodworking joints, the refinement of quality finishing techniques, and the development of advanced hinges, locking mechanisms, and hardware, the cabinet took on a more sophisticated demeanor over time. European cabinet panels, doors, and friezes became decorative surfaces indicative of the nuances of their furniture style: from English Tudor arches, tracery, and cutouts that mimicked Gothic architecture to the gilted, painted, and elaborately carved in Italian Renaissance style.

The European cabinet's evolution closely traces that of furniture as a whole. Whether simple, bare-bones structures or fashionably high-style variants, cabinets embody every sensibility.


Quick Facts

  • In the late-13th century in Lyon, the king of France granted furniture makers in the city a tax exemption that fueled an explosion of French furniture production
  • In December 2014, a 19th-century mahogany corner cabinet with a swan neck pediment and glass doors sold at Bonhams for £220
  • A 17th-century cabinet sold at a 2014 Bonhams auction in England for the tiny sum of £50

Recommended Items at Auction

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Napoleon III Ebonized Pear Wood Two Door Cabinet
Dec 04, 12:00 PM EST
Napoleon III Ebonized Pear Wood Two Door Cabinet
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $600- $800
$1252 Bids
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A pair of French Louis XV-style vitrines
Dec 06, 10:00 AM PST
A pair of French Louis XV-style vitrines
by John Moran Auctioneers
Est: $7,000- $9,000
$5,0001 Bid
Art Deco Sideboard
Dec 03, 11:00 AM CET
Art Deco Sideboard
by Auktionshaus Sieglin GmbH
Est: €0- €0
€1001 Bid
Victorian Burl Walnut & Marble Credenza
Dec 03, 10:00 AM EST
Victorian Burl Walnut & Marble Credenza
by Roland Auctions NY
Est: $300- $500
$1001 Bid
Hugh Spencer Rosewood Cabinet
Dec 03, 12:00 PM EST
Hugh Spencer Rosewood Cabinet
by Palm Beach Modern Auctions
Est: $1,500- $2,500
$1,0001 Bid
Louis XV Style Antique French Curio Cabinet
Dec 03, 11:00 AM EST
Louis XV Style Antique French Curio Cabinet
by Northgate Gallery
Est: $100- $25,000
$501 Bid
Entredos Napoleon III style,20th century
Dec 13, 5:00 PM CET
Entredos Napoleon III style,20th century
by Ansorena
Est: €225- €300
€1501 Bid
Formal French Style Curio Display Cabinet
Dec 02, 10:00 AM EST
Formal French Style Curio Display Cabinet
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $100- $10,000
$501 Bid
Vintage French Empire Style Bronze Mounted Buffet Cabinet
Dec 03, 11:00 AM EST
Vintage French Empire Style Bronze Mounted Buffet Cabinet
by Northgate Gallery
Est: $100- $25,000
$501 Bid
English servant cabinet in mahogany wood, Early 20th century
Dec 02, 4:00 PM CET
English servant cabinet in mahogany wood, Early 20th century
by ArtLaRosa
Est: €0- €0
€3000 Bids
LARGE FRENCH COUNTRY CUPBOARD
Dec 13, 9:00 AM CST
LARGE FRENCH COUNTRY CUPBOARD
by Jackson's International
Est: $500- $750
$4500 Bids
French Mahogany Serpentine Front Cabinet
Dec 03, 11:00 AM EST
French Mahogany Serpentine Front Cabinet
by Northgate Gallery
Est: $100- $25,000
$500 Bids
Louis XV-Salonvitrine
Dec 03, 10:00 AM CET
Louis XV-Salonvitrine
by Kunstauktionshaus Schloss Ahlden
Est: €900- €1,800
€9000 Bids
A GEORGE I FIGURED WALNUT SIDE CABINET OF SMALL PROPORTIONS
Dec 02, 9:30 AM GMT
A GEORGE I FIGURED WALNUT SIDE CABINET OF SMALL PROPORTIONS
by Hutchinson Scott Limited
Est: £1,500- £2,500
£7500 Bids
Dielenschrank im Landhausstil
Dec 03, 10:00 AM CET
Dielenschrank im Landhausstil
by Kunstauktionshaus Schloss Ahlden
Est: €240- €480
€2400 Bids
A GEORGE III FIGURED MAHOGANY BEDSIDE CABINET
Dec 02, 9:30 AM GMT
A GEORGE III FIGURED MAHOGANY BEDSIDE CABINET
by Hutchinson Scott Limited
Est: £100- £200
£500 Bids
A GEORGE III MAHOGANY BEDSIDE CABINET
Dec 02, 9:30 AM GMT
A GEORGE III MAHOGANY BEDSIDE CABINET
by Hutchinson Scott Limited
Est: £80- £120
£400 Bids
A FINE WILLIAM IV MAHOGANY BREAKFRONT SIDE CABINET IN THE MANNER OF GILLOWS
Dec 02, 9:30 AM GMT
A FINE WILLIAM IV MAHOGANY BREAKFRONT SIDE CABINET IN THE MANNER OF GILLOWS
by Hutchinson Scott Limited
Est: £1,000- £1,500
£5000 Bids
Michel Pigneres Chrome & Purple Writing Cabinet
Dec 04, 12:00 PM EST
Michel Pigneres Chrome & Purple Writing Cabinet
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $3,000- $5,000
$5000 Bids
MOBILE GLASVITRINE MIT BELEUCHTUNG
Dec 09, 10:00 AM CET
MOBILE GLASVITRINE MIT BELEUCHTUNG
by Hargesheimer Kunstauktionen Düsseldorf
Est: €150- €300
€1500 Bids
Barocker Vitrinenschrank
Dec 03, 11:00 AM CET
Barocker Vitrinenschrank
by Auktionshaus Sieglin GmbH
Est: €0- €0
€2000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell European Cabinets


Veilinghuis Van Spengen

Veilinghuis Van Spengen

Austin Auction Gallery

Austin Auction Gallery

Uniques & Antiques

Uniques & Antiques

Hutchinson Scott Limited

Hutchinson Scott Limited