Wednesday, December 18, 2013


pied-de-biche [pee-ey-duh-beesh; French pyeyduh-beesh]
noun, plural pieds-de-biche [pee-eyz-duh-beesh; French pyeyduh-beesh]
Furniture. a termination to a leg, consisting of a slight outward curve ending in the semblance of a cloven hoof.
Also called hoof foot.
< French: literally, doe's foot
This obsession with animal parts we have may have started with antlers, but it ends with hooves. At least the feet of furniture does. Furniture based on wildlife anatomy dates back 3,000 years to the creature comforts of animal-worshiping Egyptians, whose beds stood on carved bull legs, gazelle hooves or lion feet. The hoof foot, carved to reflect the natural appearance of an animal such as a deer or horse, appeared in fine French furniture towards the end of the 17th century.

 The legs of furniture were sometimes stylized representations of animal limbs, but the feet were rendered realistically. It is very common to see the hoof foot found at the base of cabriole legs.

Antique French Louis XV style walnut side table. Circa 1880s. Serpentine moulded top. The scalloped apron houses drawers on each end with iron pulls. Resting on cabriole legs ending in pieds de biche.
Antique French Country Louis XV style confiturier (jam holder) from Normandie. Circa 1870s. Handcrafted of cherrywood featuring a single paneled door with unusual full hinge above a carved apron. Raised on short cabriole feet ending in pieds de biche.
Louis XV armoire handcrafted between 1750 and 1760 in Rennes of solid wild cherrywood. Double chapeau de gendarme cornice topped with a carved urn filled with stylized plumes of feathers, blossoms, leaves and tendrils above four doors divided horizontally at the center by two drawers. Each door features a fougère (fern) patterned central panel. Scalloped apron rests on short cabriole legs ending in pieds de biche. 

The hoof foot, or deer foot, is referred to as pied(s) de biche in the trade. It appears in Régence and early Louis XV furniture designs. It was popular in stately furniture throughout the 1700s when horse hooves became popular.

Lovely Country French sofa table/console converted from an antique farm table. Circa 1870s. Cherry wood. The carved apron houses three drawers with bronze pulls. Resting on cabriole legs ending in pieds de biche. 

And my favorite is this Brittany console Lolo found. Look how realistic the feet are.

Charming antique Louis XV style Country French console in chestnut from a hunting lodge in Brittany. Circa 1880s. Beveled top with gadrooned edge above carved apron with motifs typical of artisans from the Brittany region. Raised on four stylized cabriole legs ending in pieds de biche. Single serpentine shelf. 

What do you you think about the hoof? How is it used in your home?

Á Bientôt!
Happy Holidays!

Lolo & Mimi

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