These coquillers, sometimes confused with medal cabinets ('médaillers'), are pieces of furniture which as the name suggests, were used to house and preserve shells. Very few examples have survived, apart from the mahogany cabinet which belonged to Clément Lafaille, now in the Museum of Natural History in La Rochelle and the famous coquiller cabinet made for Ange-Laurent Lalive de Jully, attributed to Joseph Baumhauer, today in a private collection.
The present pair of Régence style coquiller cabinets would have been made for the collector Charles de Beistegui (1895-1970). Son of an ambassador and heir to a Mexican silver mine fortune, he spent his life between several residences which he acquired and redecorated, often with the help of Emilio Terry. Amongst others, he owned the castle of Groussay in Montfort-l'Amaury, the Labia palace in Venice, an apartment on the Champs-Elysées by Le Corbusier, and a hôtel particulier in rue de Constantine, Paris, the latter of which housed the present pair of coquillier cabinets.
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