This beautifully carved America-France Liberty cabinet was created for the Louisiana State Exhibit at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, also known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Crafted of walnut, this cabinet celebrates both the special relationship between the United States and France and the amazing variety of life to be found in the Louisiana Territory. A tour-de-force of Louisiana artistry, this cupboard was included in one of the most important expositions of art, industry and culture of all time.
This one-of-a-kind cupboard’s outstanding design blends rich symbolism with exceptional artistry. The highly detailed carvings tell the story of French and American cooperation and the two countries’ mutual love of liberty and cultural excellence. The top finial bears representations of Marianne, France’s symbol of liberty, and her two children, France and Louisiana, are joined by America’s Lady Liberty on the cabinet’s top half. Surrounding these highly important symbols are intricate carvings of lush animal and plant life, and portrait medallions representing the many different historical figures, including Theodore Roosevelt and Mark Twain.
The cabinet’s lower half is equally symbolic. Two busts that almost certainly portray Thomas Jefferson, the chief architect of the Louisiana Purchase, and Philippe II, duc d’Orléans, for whom the city of New Orleans is named, take a prominent position. And the Exposition itself is honored with tableaux carved in bas relief on the lower cupboard doors. These display symbols of music, writing, painting, drama and sculpture on the left, and agriculture and industry on the right, with carvings of a watering can, scythe, protractor and compass, all tools of the art and industry that made the territory so great in only a century’s time.
Furniture featured at the St. Louis World’s Fair, one of the most magnificent ever to be held, was among the finest made during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Exhibitors came from all parts of the United States and the four corners of the globe, and to be chosen to exhibit was truly a great honor. To find an item that was featured, especially one of such incredible meaning and in such excellent condition, is extraordinary.
48” wide x 22” deep x 96” high
In 1899, a committee was formed in order to put on an exhibition commemorating the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase. Five years later, the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, also known as the St. Louis World’s Fair, officially opened it gates, and became the most fantastic exhibition of international art, industry and culture. The fair featured exhibits by almost every state in the Union, each housed in its own uniquely designed building, as well as buildings, known as Palaces, dedicated to such disciplines as Manufacture, Education and Fine Art. A wonder since its very first day, the Exposition introduced the public to new foods such as the waffle-style ice cream cone, the hamburger, hot dog, peanut butter, iced tea, cotton candy, Dr. Pepper and Puffed Wheat cereal. Human beings were also on exhibit, in more ways than one. The fair featured noted speakers such as Helen Keller. A “human zoo” was featured on the site, and housed members from the Igorot tribe of the Philippines, Native Americans such as famed warrior Geronimo, and Pygmy tribesman Ota Benga.