PRESENTING A SIMPLY GORGEOUS Early 19C French Empire Armoire Wine Cabinet.

This is an early 19th Century, French empire style or Napoleon I, Armoire made with the most stunning butterflied burl Walnut veneers, which we have converted into a wine cabinet or bodega.

The Armoire is from circa 1820 and has a convex (curved) front with side ebonized pillars and pelmet. The fittings/ormolu mounts are all original.

It has a stunning natural butterflied walnut patina.

It is of gorgeous neat proportions.

The Armoire now opens to reveal a series of wine racks and makes a gorgeous wine cabinet holding up to 64 bottles.



It has been featured on various Wine Collector and Connoisseur Blogs !!

It was our idea to convert a simple wardrobe/armoire into a wine cabinet/bodega and we have personally used it for years. We could have sold this piece a hundred times over, as everyone that sees it, falls in love with it …… but we are only now ready to sell  !

This piece simply proves that antiques  are made to be used and can be functional as well as beautiful !


FRENCH EMPIRE STYLE: The Empire style, French pronunciation: [ɑ̃.piːʁ],the second phase of Romanticism, is an early-nineteenth-century design movement in architecture, furniture, other decorative arts, and the visual arts that flourished between 1800 and 1815 during the Consulate and the First French Empire periods, although its life span lasted until the late 1820s (or more depending on each country). From France it spread into much of Europe and the United States.

The style originated in and takes its name from the rule of Napoleon I in the First French Empire, when it was intended to idealize Napoleon’s leadership and the French state. The style corresponds in that intent to the Biedermeier style in the German-speaking lands, Federal style in the United States, and the Regency style in Britain. The previous style in France was called Louis XVI style.

Napoleon’s bedchamber in the Grand Trianon, Versailles epitomizes the neoclassical style of the First French Empire

The style developed and elaborated the Directoire style of the immediately preceding period, which aimed at a simpler, but still elegant evocation of the virtues of the Ancient Roman Republic:

The stoic virtues of Republican Rome were upheld as standards not merely for the arts but also for political behaviour and private morality. Conventionels saw themselves as antique heroes. Children were named after Brutus, Solon and Lycurgus. The festivals of the Revolution were staged by David as antique rituals. Even the chairs in which the committee of Salut Publique sat were made on antique models devised by David. …In fact Neo-classicism became fashionable.

The Empire style “turned to the florid opulence of Imperial Rome. The abstemious severity of Doric was replaced by Corinthian richness and splendour”.

Two French architects, Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine, were together the creators of the French Empire style. The two had studied in Rome and in the 1790s became leading furniture designers in Paris, where they received many commissions from Napoleon and other statesmen.

Architecture of the Empire style was based on elements of the Roman Empire and its many archaeological treasures, which had been rediscovered starting in the eighteenth century. The preceding Louis XVI and Directoire styles employed straighter, simpler designs compared to the Rococo style of the eighteenth century. Empire designs strongly influenced the contemporary American Federal style (such as design of the United States Capitol building), and both were forms of propaganda through architecture. It was a style of the people, not ostentatious but sober and evenly balanced. The style was considered to have “liberated” and “enlightened” architecture just as Napoleon “liberated” the peoples of Europe with his Napoleonic Code.
Église de la Madeleine in Paris, a Temple to the Glory of Napoleon’s Grande Armée

The Empire period was popularized by the inventive designs of Percier and Fontaine, Napoleon’s architects for Malmaison. The designs drew for inspiration on symbols and ornaments borrowed from the glorious ancient Greek and Roman empires. Buildings typically had simple timber frames and box-like constructions, veneered in expensive mahogany imported from the colonies. Biedermeier furniture also used ebony details, originally due to financial constraints. Ormolu details (gilded bronze furniture mounts and embellishments) displayed a high level of craftsmanship.
Kazan Cathedral in Saint Petersburg.

General Bernadotte, later to become King Karl Johan of Sweden and Norway, introduced the Napoleonic style to Sweden, where it became known under his own name. The Karl Johan style remained popular in Scandinavia even as the Empire style disappeared from other parts of Europe. France paid some of its debts to Sweden in ormolu bronzes instead of money, leading to a vogue for crystal chandeliers with bronze from France and crystal from Sweden.

After Napoleon lost power, the Empire style continued to be in favour for many decades, with minor adaptations. There was a revival of the style in the last half of the nineteenth century in France, again at the beginning of the twentieth century, and again in the 1980s.

The most famous Empire-style structures in France are the grand neoclassical Arc de Triomphe of Place de l’Étoile, Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Vendôme column, and La Madeleine, which were built in Paris to emulate the edifices of the Roman Empire. The style also was used widely in Imperial Russia, where it was used to celebrate the victory over Napoleon in such memorial structures as the General Staff Building, Kazan Cathedral, Alexander Column, and Narva Triumphal Gate. Stalinist architecture is sometimes referred to as Stalin’s Empire style.

The style survived in Italy longer than in most of Europe, partly because of its Imperial Roman associations, partly because it was revived as a national style of architecture following the unification of Italy in 1870. Mario Praz wrote about this style as the Italian Empire. In the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States, the Empire style was adapted to local conditions and gradually acquired further expression as the Egyptian Revival, Greek Revival, Biedermeier style, Regency style, and late-Federal style.


Early 19C French Empire Armoire Wine Cabinet – UNIQUE

Provenance: Bought at Auction in Ireland and professionally converted in Ireland.

Dimensions: 69″ High,  49″ Wide and 22″ Deep

Condition: Good condition for age. Minor repairs over the last 200 years but nothing significant. Doors ‘creak’ a little and do not close fully ‘flush’ (Slight gap at top). Back panel (to the rear and not visible from front) a replacement. Central door molding a recent replacement. Recently re-gilded with gold leaf. Original lock needs servicing. No key (key in photos is for decoration/display only).