Charles Guillaume Diehl (German, act. Paris, 1811–ca. 1885), cabinetmaker; Jean Brandely (French, act. 1855–67), designer; Emmanuel Frémiet (French, 1824–1910), sculptor
Oak veneered with cedar, walnut, ebony, and ivory, silvered bronze mounts
H. 93 3/4 in. (238 cm), W. 59 1/2 in. (151 cm), D. 23 5/8 in. (60 cm)
Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Frank E. Richardson Gift, 1989 (1989.197)
When the prototype for this compelling cabinet, now in the collection of the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, was exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in 1867, it received mixed criticism. The cabinetmaker must have been pleased with the controversial piece because he commissioned this second, nearly identical one for himself. The central plaque by the sculptor Emmanuel Frémiet commemorates the military triumph of Merovech (d. 458), leader of the Salian Franks, over Attila and his marauding Huns at the Battle of the Catalaunian Field in 451. In a vivid and unsettling representation, Merovech stands before his troops at the front of the chariot as it passes over the dead body of an opponent.