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Wardrobes in Normandy (3): the sculptors by Claude Vilars

 

At the beginning of the 19th century, sculptors settled in the Vire region. La Graverie, Viessoix, Landelles, Tinchebray and of course Vire claim to have been the centre of the largest production of popular furniture of the time.

It is obvious that these craftsmen were not satisfied with satisfying local demand, but also widely distributed their production; most often through carpenters, more or less distant, who sent (sometimes even without informing their customers) the parts of the furniture which were to be carved. We find in particular cupboards of typical Villedieu or St-Lo design, decorated with Viro sculptures.

The most widespread name is certainly that of BANVILLET.

Nicolas-François Banvillet, son of Richard Banvillet, was born in Mesnil-Auzouf in 1784. He married Marie-Jeanne Levallois. His apprenticeship took place in various workshops in the region. There he found the essential lines of his production, which he was able to use to the best advantage when he was free to let his personal imagination run wild. Among the works he made was a lectern eagle for the church in Viessoix. The choir stalls in the same church were also his work. Gradually he stopped borrowing motifs from other workshops and created his own. In particular, he can be credited with the initiative to use and interpret gardening tools and fishing and hunting attributes in his own way.

Charles-Gustave Banvillet. He learned his trade in his father's workshop and stayed there all his life. His production is easy to identify: he signed and dated, with a pencil, on the inner centre of the ceiling of his furniture : "I was made by C.G. BANVILLET in 18.

François Banvillet. First established at the "Grainonière" (the place where the Father's workshop was) then at the "Clos" and at the "Personnerie". He died in the hospice of Vire.

Auguste-Alphonse Banvillet. Son of François Banvillet, the last sculptor of the family. He died in 1896 at the age of 36.

The attribution to one of these carpenters changes the value of a Norman cabinet.

See the two previous articles: Wardrobes of Normandy (1) and Wardrobes of Normandy (2): the Viroise.

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