Revisiting Jean Palardy’s “The Early Furniture of French Canada”

Revisiting Jean Palardy’s “The Early Furniture of French Canada”

Pridham's is pleased to offer five pieces documented in Jean Palardy's important book, The Early Furniture of French Canada, in our upcoming Canadiana, Québécois, and Folk Art auction. 

Jean Palardy OC GOQ (1905 – 1991) was a French-Canadian painter, art historian, ethnologist, and filmmaker. Palardy, supported by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs in Québec and the Canada Council, wrote the first concise book on traditional French-Canadian furniture, “The Early Furniture of French Canada.” Today, it remains a valuable source on the design and workmanship of Québécois furniture from the seventeenth century to the first half of the nineteenth century. A large portion of his book serves as a catalogue raisonné of Québécois furniture. Today, his comprehensive annotated listings assist in preserving the legacy of these rare furniture pieces.

Scroll through to compare the photographs taken in the mid-twentieth century for Palardy’s book and those taken for Pridham’s upcoming sale. The unchanged nature of these pieces not only demonstrates the fine and sturdy craftmanship of early French-Canadian woodworkers, but also reminds us of the timelessness within exceptional furniture.

A very good glazed pine flat to the wall cupboard in an old refinished condition. From Québec with many decorative features such as a built up cornice with dentil and bead moulding beneath it. Quarter columns on the upper and lower portion of the cupboard with decorative carving. Beaded openings on the upper door openings. Reeded surrounds on the frames of the lower doors with beaded rectangular accents on them. A substantial cut out bracket base with a central decorative detail at the centre of the base. Original cast iron hardware throughout. Hand forged nails throughout. Shelves that align with the glazing bars. This cupboard is included in Palardy’s 1963 book “The Early Furniture of French Canada”, see full page photograph, plate 170.

From an old collection comes this desirable armchair, of the Louis XIII, “à la Capucine” style. From Québec, made of birch with a myriad of turnings including chamfered cubes, throughout the chair. Beautifully shaped down swept arms supported by an upright brace extending through the seat and into the upper stretcher. Shaped back splats. In refinished condition with a later woven seat. Traces of dark red remain on the underside. A splendid example of 18th century chairmaking in Québec. See Webster’s “The Book of Canadian Antiques”, page 28, for similar example. And the same chair as image 221 in Bird’s “Canadian Country Furniture”. An almost identical example in Palardy’s, plate 322.

A pine single “Carriole” bed from Québec. The headboard and footboard featuring a heavy scalloped edge around the perimeter with a thick hand carved vine in the centre of the panel. All 4 edges of the headboards also have a shaped frame with naive appliqué carvings. Old refinished condition. This bed is included in Palardy’s 1963 book “The Early Furniture of French Canada”, see full page photograph, plate 215.

An impressive commode from Québec with palmettes in the Louis XVI manner. As featured in Palardy’s “The Early Furniture of French Canada”, plate 459. This piece has a “flat three-drawer façade with small moulded and shaped panels derived from Dauphine or Lyonnais”. The drawer pulls which appear to be the original are mounted on raised panels with carved decorative trim around them. Lapped and moulded drawer fronts. There are carved floral decorations at the base of each front corner. Front and sides in pine, top in birch. Refinished. Late 18th century.

A pine banc-lit with an applied lozenge shaped diamond on the façade. Cut out back board with shaped  balusters. Square nailed construction. Refinished condition. Montréal, Québec, circa 1840. Ex Watt collection, Toronto, Ontario. See plate 262 of Jean Palardy’s book, “The Early Furniture of French Canada”.

To learn more about the Canadiana, Québécois, and Folk Art Auction view more details here.

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