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French Antiques at Circa with Natalie

At Circa Antiques in Westport, co-owners Natalie Dunagan and David Brandon sell an eclectic variety of French antique furniture. The two travel to France every three months to hunt for new treasures, and today Natalie discusses the highlights of their latest shipment.

The first piece is a large 18th-century buffet made of burled ash and cherry (both woods are solid, not veneer) which features a slide-out breadboard and the original locks and hardware. The use of burled ash is characteristic of the Bresse region of France; Natalie speculates the piece would have been placed in a farmhouse's combination kitchen and dining room.

Next, Natalie points out two gray-painted chairs with gilded detailing. Although they are in the Louis XV style, the chairs only date to the Napoleon III period -- the 1880s. She believes the chairs are made of walnut and would not originally have been painted.

Then Natalie shows an 18th-century armoire and a 19th-century buffet, both of which have been painted in light colors. She says they were probably painted relatively recently and that the rustic look of painted furniture is popular among many collectors today.

The last piece Natalie disusses is one of her most treasured finds: an exquisite late-19th-century rocking chair constructed of steel, brass, and leather. Natalie believes it was manufactured by Thonet, the esteemed European furniture maker known for mass-producing bentwood chairs with caned seats. The rocker is a reproduction of an English chair called the Winfield rocker, which was designed around 1850.