Though the following two examples of American Renaissance Revival style furniture are unattributed, both display a standard of cabinetmaking usually associated with firms like Alexandre Roux and Pottier and Stymus.
The Renaissance Revival style emerged in the United States in the 1850s as a combination of Renaissance-inspired architectural forms overlaid with French Louis XVI ornament. These primary decorative vocabularies were often further embellished with Greek and Egyptian inspired motifs. By the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial, the style had reached its height, and had been adopted and modified by multiple fine furniture makers in major American cities.
The cabinet and table share several qualities, most notably their finely detailed marquetry panels depicting scenes from the Fables de la Fontaine. Both panels are almost certainly the work of Joseph Cremer (1830-1878), one of the most renowned marqueteurs of the mid-nineteenth century. He won medals at many of the major exhibitions of the period, and was annointed un maître by the jury of the 1855 Paris Exposition Universelle. By now, it is known that his Parisian firm sold marquetry panels to furniture makers in America. While often unsigned, inlay of this quality is safely attributed to his workshop, and their presence further indicates that they were produced by a prestigious furniture maker. Similar examples of renaissance revival style furniture with Cremer panels that have since been attributed to companies like Pottier and Stymus and Herter Brothers can be found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum.
In this way, these pieces are indicative of a transitional moment in American decorative arts, in which furniture makers began to explore increasingly inventive designs while still looking to France for signifiers of quality and expense.