Commode (3/4 right, without drawers)

Joseph Baumhauer

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

Every part of this commode is of the highest quality. The front and sides are set with panels of Japanese lacquer that were removed from an imported pair of cabinets. Delicately chased meandering gilt-bronze mounts hide the seams of the panels, and French imitation of Japanese nashiji, an orange-toned lacquer sprinkled with gold, covers the remaining surfaces. Even the thick marble top is carved both above and below its rim, an unusual refinement.

This commode exemplifies the European passion for objects from East Asia and the Parisian taste for transforming these imported goods into quintessentially French wares. While its form is strictly French, the panels of Japanese lacquer are the focus of the design. In this case panels of Japanese lacquer of different sizes have been used by French craftsman to create a symmetrical composition out of panels that were originally asymmetrical. French craftsmen may have even painted on small details such as some flying insects and extraneous tufts of grass to the front panels, possibly to hide small areas of surface damage or perhaps to fill some empty sections of the original Japanese composition.

Although the commode is not stamped with the name of a cabinetmaker, it is attributed to the cabinetmaker Joseph Baumhauer because it resembles other works stamped with his name. Two paper trade labels, pasted above and below the carcass, identify the marchand-mercier François Darnault (or his son François Charles), a dealer who sold luxury goods in his Paris shop, Au Roy d'Espagne, as the source of this commode.


  • Title: Commode (3/4 right, without drawers)
  • Creator: Joseph Baumhauer
  • Date Created: early to mid-1750s
  • Location Created: Paris, France
  • Physical Dimensions: 88.3 × 146.1 × 62.6 cm (34 3/4 × 57 1/2 × 24 5/8 in.)
  • Type: Furniture
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: White oak veneered with ebony and a wood possibly identified as servicetree, set with panels of Japanese lacquer on Japanese arborvitae, and painted with European lacquer; drawers of white oak; brass and iron hardware and lock; gilt-bronze mounts; campan mélange vert marble top
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 55.DA.2
  • Culture: French (Paris)
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Creator Display Name: Attributed to Joseph Baumhauer (French, died 1772)
  • Classification: Decorative Art (Art Genre)

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