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Monday, 24 November 2014

The antiques fair ANTICA Namur 2014 in Belgium | Liège-style Furniture | An 18th century Liège corner chest

Antica 2014
The Art & Antiques Fair in Namur  (Belgium)

Source of inspiration
A visit to the museum, a castle, a church or an antique fair is probably the most important source of inspiration for a woodcarver. 
These are the places where a craftsman gets his ideas from, where he looks for new challenges and often finds something totally unexpected, and even after 25 years  as a woodcarver, you can still get the sense of learning something new.
We tend to go there to take a closer look at how our fellow woodcarvers solved certain problems back in the day and how they applied their knowledge of tasteful proportions to interior decorating and to analyze the way they shaped things as well as the woodcarving techniques they applied.

Antica Namur
Antica Namur is a must-see event for Belgian and foreign antique dealers. Antica Namur is where everyone from the world of antiques meets up. With over 125 Belgian and foreign antique dealers, 28.000 professionals, collectors and art lovers, it was the place to be this autumn!
Antica Namur combined quality, charm, tradition and conviviality to make sure that we had the experience of a lifetime, surrounded by art and antiques.
The authenticity of the pieces on display is always verified by a team of experts and therefore guaranteed.
This year, the theme of the fair was “Gastronomy”, with a special guest appearance by Gerald Watelet, who took care of the menu in the restaurant at the fair and who also occupied a stand to give free rein to his decorative skills in an exceptional atmosphere, completely devoted to the theme of the fair.
In and around the exhibition space, antique dealers used art to present this year’s theme of “Gastronomy” by means of paintings, engravings and art objects and also shed some light on the art of the table, using furniture, porcelain, glass, silverware and fabrics from renowned collections.

An 18th century Liège corner chest

An 18th century Liège corner chest
During our visit to Antica Namur 2014, this remarkable 18th century Liège corner chest caught my eye. I thought it was a thing of exceptional beauty and it immediately drew me in for a closer look. The exhibitor explained to me that this corner chest used to be a component of wainscot paneling – a wall cabinet, and that the interior (shelves, back panel) were from a more recent period.

The person who created this, surely understood his craft; beautifully quartered oak and an amazing frame, which is not uncommon for Liège furniture. What struck me in particular were the compositions of the ornaments and the quality of the woodcarving on the three-piece door frame, which, in my opinion, was incredibly well-finished. The beautiful and elegant compositions were quite creative and completely reflect the style period. The rocaille was shaped with much devotion and great attention to detail. 

Upon closer examination, I drew the antique dealer’s attention to the fact that this is a so called “composite piece of furniture”, to support his earlier claim about the interior of the chest, which probably consisted of the original door of the wainscot paneling and the later addition of the rest of the corner chest. The cabinetmaker used original 18th century parts from other cabinets or wainscot paneling. The latter seems to be the more obvious possibility, seeing as the balusters are very broad, too broad even, to be able to come from a Liège wardrobe or bookcase.

The length of the asymmetrical decorative “Liège-style” motifs reveal that they were most likely taken from wainscot paneling or a wall cabinet. The balusters are decorated with three motifs: a lower, middle and an upper motif. I deliberately refer to this as “Liège-style”, because these compositions of motifs could stem from two Liège style periods, being the “Liège Regency”-style and the “Liège Louis XV”-style. For an exact determination of the origin, we would have to be able to take a look at the entire chest or paneling. It so happens that looking at the original chest or configuration tells us something more about which period it stems from: Liège Regency or Louis XV.
If you look closely, you will also notice that the balusters were sawn horizontally, (picture of middle motif). The charming elements with carvings on them were reused to serve as a decorative whole.

It would, however, seem that the cabinetmaker was not completely aware of how to use Liège woodcarving or how to apply compositions of ornaments on furniture. He seems to have reversed the compositions of the Liège ornaments, which are thus upside down. A mistake you immediately notice if you know a thing or two about Liège furniture and compositions.
Despite this, it’s still an intriguing piece of furniture.

Compositions of ornaments, reversed (Liège furniture)

Liège style furniture


A visit to the antiques fair is definitely worth your time and if you combine it with a cultural visit to the city of Namur, you’re sure to have a wonderful day.
 I also took a number of pictures during
ANTICA Namur 2014.


Painted wooden panelling

The antiques fair ANTICA Namur 2014 

The antiques fair ANTICA Namur 2014 in Belgium

A beautiful carved and gilded mirror on one of the stands, Antica 2014

Rococo style mirror carved and gilded

Beautiful panelling with ornaments

Beautiful carved ornaments polychrome


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