Lot 46
  • 46

A South German Rococo ormolu-mounted, carved, parcel-gilt and cream-painted commode with a scagliola top Franconia, probably Bamberg, mid-18th century

50,000 - 80,000 USD
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  • pine, ormolu, scagliola
  • height 32 in.; width 45 1/4 in.; depth 23 1/2 in.
  • 81.5 cm; 115 cm; 60 cm


Fischer-Böhler, Munich, acquired from a private Franconian Collection;
The Lesley and Emma Sheafer Collection, Bequest of Emma A. Sheafer, 1973


Danielle Kisluk-Grosheide, Wolfram Koeppe and William Rieder, European Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York:2006

Heinrich Kreisel, Die Kunst des deutschen Möbels, Band II Spätbarock und Rokoko, Munich: 1970

Metropolitan Museum, The Lesley and Emma Sheafer Collection, A Selective Presentation, New York: 1975

Dr Sigrid Sangl, Das Bamberger Hofschreinerhandwerk im 18. Jahrhundert, Munich: 1990, illustrated fig.108


With scattered age and construction cracks, abrasions and some nicks. Largest cracks to sides, particularly to proper left. Areas of overpainting and infill to painted decoration. Carcase appears to have been slightly reduced in height above the top drawer. Carving with some minor chips, losses and cracks to gesso. Old repairs to apron carvings. Some scattered old worm damage to back and legs. Scagliola top with some very small and minor chips, and restorations. Ormolu with some rubbing and minor oxidation. In good condition and ready to place.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

This dynamically proportioned and exquisitely decorated commode is a rare surviving example of South German rococo furniture from Bamberg, in Franconia.  Dr Sigrid Sangl ascribes it to a small group of works dating from circa 1760-65 all with similar parcel-gilt, white painted decoration, including a commode and console in Schloss Rentweinsdorf; a console in St Gangolf, Bamberg; two commodes, one formerly on the art market with Fischer-Böhler and the other on loan to the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg (ill. Sangl, figs.107, 109) and two further important commodes in the Metropolitan Museum also from the Sheafer collection and formerly at Schloss Seehof outside Bamberg (the first ill. Sangl, fig.106, the second Kreisel, p.556 and figs.3 and 3).  Schloss Seehof was the summer residence of the powerful Prince-Bishops of Bamberg, whose titular holders included members of the von Schönborn and von Seinsheim families.  One of the highlights of the Metropolitan's Sheafer Collection galleries is the exceptional suite of seat furniture from the castle's garden pavilion, with backs in the form of flower-filled trellises, a tour de force of German Rococo inventiveness and naturalistic design.

The relatively brief rococo period in Franconian furniture history has been described as an amalgam of tendencies from neighbouring German artistic centres.  The parabolic effect of movement through the concave front and sides raised on unusually high legs, and the refined floral and scroll carving exhibit a clear influence of the published furniture designs of the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés (d.1768), several related commodes after which are in the Munich Residenz (Kreisel, figs.430, 445).  At the same time the present work maintains a clear structural integrity and avoids a surfeit of decoration, showing an affinity with the work of the Hoppenhaupt brothers in the Prussian royal palaces in Berlin and Potsdam between 1745-1760.  Designs for commodes similar to the present lot were published by the Augsburg engraver Franz Xaver Haberman (d.1796) in c.1750 (fig.1).

In the absence of archival records, the maker of this and the Seehof commodes remains unknown, although various artists working for the Prince-Bishops at Seehof and the Bamberg Residenz have been put forward for the Seehof examples, such as the court sculptor Johann Mutschele or the Bauer family of cabinetmakers.  The Wurzburg woodcarver Ferdinand Hund (d.1758), who worked at the Wurzburg Residenz and Schloss Bruchsal and whose presence is recorded in Bamberg in 1751 has also been suggested as a possible designer of this type of commode (Sangl, p.213). 

For nearly one hundred years Fischer-Böhler were one of the legendary art and antiques dealers in Munich, founded in 1883 by Wilhelm Böhler and joined by Bamberg native Karl Fischer in the early 20th century.  The firm is credited with reviving interest in the South German Rococo after the Second World War, and its gallery of furniture, silver, ceramics and sculpture in the Residenzstrasse was patronized by preeminent institutions and private collectors including the Sheafers, who sourced the majority of their German furniture there.  The gallery definitively closed in the 1980s.