A French Panetiere
We just brought home a prized piece of antique French furniture! Acquired from a French seller, is this fabulous French panetiere!
The panetiere (pronounced panuh-tyer) is a bread safe, and is considered a highly collectible antique, representing the celebrated symbol of Country French tradition, the making of bread.
Bread has been one of Europe’s traditions for centuries, so of course, the French elevated this daily task and ritual of bread-making to an art form by creating a beautiful cabinet to store the bread in.
If one had to name a single piece of furniture that would be most typical of old Provence, it would have to be a panetière.
In the beginning, these cabinets existed only in Provence and were a part of almost every provençal household from the early to mid 1600’s, right up until World War I. At the heart of any kitchen in Provence would be a panetiere hung on the wall. After World War I the panetiere made its way into other areas of France.
Our panetiere is made of fruitwood and has gorgeous carvings and curvy legs, as well as hangers on the back side for hanging.
Panetieres were usually made with fittings on the back which would allow them to be hung on the wall, keeping the bread safe from children and pets.
Today, they look fabulous displayed on top of a sideboard or buffet.
Originally, the panetiere was a simple wood box, perforated and placed directly on the table.
However, in the 18th century, carved aprons and cornices began to appear.
Small doors were added through which the bread could be inserted.
In the 19th century, panetieres were designed with spindles to create the case, topped with finials called candeliers or chandelles.
The turned spindle rails surrounding the area where families stored their daily bread kept the children or pets from sneaking a loaf. Many families kept the bread under lock and key, hung from the wall which also served to display this family heirloom for all to see and appreciate.
Carved of fruitwood or walnut, talented sculptors would add carved motifs to reflect the country life, including feathers, birds, fruit, flowers and leaves.
No two were ever exactly alike. Many times such highly decorative panetieres were wedding or anniversary gifts, and the floral & musical adornments symbolized a flowering marriage with harmony in the home.
Though the panetiere was intended to hang on the wall, they were always created with feet.
They were designed to be easily free-standing. The back feet are plain, but the front feet are usually snail-shaped.
The French knew plenty about cooking with style even in the early days.
Panetieres are highly sought after for display in the kitchen or dining room.
Today, most panetieres are used to display special collections of china or collectibles. It’s an iconic French piece that you can use wherever you need decorative storage.
I am so tempted to keep this special piece, but I have something similar, the Estanier cabinet, that I adore, so I don’t really have room for it. I’ve decided I am going to sell the panetiere, and it will be going into my booth at Antiques at the Loop in Mobile, AL. If you’re interested, email me for more info (Cindy@edithandevelynvintage.com)!
Today is French Country Friday! I hope you enjoy visiting my friends to see what they are sharing today!