A lesson on early Brittany-style furniture

So I asked Marcellino to take me out on the road recently.  I had heard many of our customers ask about early Brittany-style carved furniture and I was curious about it.

What is it?” I asked him. I had seen photos of it of course, but to be honest, I had never seen a piece up close.

You want to see early Brittany-style? I’ll show you early Brittany-style,” said our enthusiastic European picker. We packed our lunch, hopped in our van and away we went.  After about a two and half hour drive through the small towns and winding back roads of Belgium, he stopped.

This way…

After a knock on the door of an immaculate-looking barn located on an old rambling farm, a young man dressed in coveralls opened the door.

“Hey, It’s been a while,” he said to us. “I bet you are looking for my grandfather. Well he has passed on, bless his dear soul. Come inside and let me show you what we have.”

I glanced over to Marcellino. He smiled and we crossed the threshold. Here is what he had to show us.  My eyes widened in disbelief as I saw this wonderful buffet.  I had never seen such beautiful and ornate carving in my life. This buffet was filled with the stories of farmers, country gentlemen, milkmaids and children. Musicians were playing flutes and lyres. Every time I looked at this gorgeous piece, I saw something new.

And that,” said our picker, “is early Brittany-style.”

This particular buffet is dated between 1840 to 1860 and is made of chestnut wood, a popular choice at that time. Normally the Brittany-style pieces of antique furniture you see or we have been able to locate are from 1890 to 1920. This rare find is in fantastic condition, having been taken care of over the years.  Marcellino also procured a lovely armchair and a small cabinet in the early Brittany-style. All pieces date to the mid 19th century.

About Brittany style:

First off, you have to like ornately carved furniture to appreciate Brittany-style. It is not plain and by no means ordinary!

According to our pals at good ol’ Wikipedia, The French province of Brittany, also known as Bretagne, was once an independent kingdom called Lesser Britain.  Brittany is still recognized as one of the six Celtic nations in the world today, as the Celtic language, Breton, is still spoken there and many Celtic traditions still survive.  Drawing on the ornate and symbolic nature of Celtic Art, antique furniture produced in Brittany at the end of the 19th century was heavily carved and told a story through its symbolic carvings. The local economy in Brittany was heavily dependent on fishing and maritime activities, so you often find circles and ship’s wheels as a common decorative motif.

The rise in popularity of Brittany-style furniture can be attributed to a collection of Breton songs, known as The Ballads of Brittany, published in 1839 by Théodore Hersart de la Villemarqué.  It created new interest in the history of the Celtic tradition in Brittany and sparked a great demand throughout France for locally-produced, hand-made Brittany-style furniture. 

These gorgeous pieces will be making their way to our location in the Exit 76 Antique Mall when we ship our next container. If you are interested in these exclusive early Brittany-style pieces of antique furniture, please contact us!