An early 18th century black and gilt japanned bureau cabinet. The arched upper section with a pair of mirrored doors with replaced plates, enclosing a fitted interior of doors and simulated nashiji-lined drawers between painted pilasters, the bureau section with a flap enclosing a fitted interior of pigeon holes and drawers around a reversible section with an arch flanked by pilasters and with chequered parquet floor, the reverse of this section with a japanned panel flanked by three drawers on each side, above two oak secret drawers, above a bombe base with three graduated drawers, on replacement claw and ball feet, the sides of upper and lower sections with carrying handles, minor restorations to decoration. The cresting is original at the front with replacement sides
This superb black and gilt japanned bureau cabinet is part of a group traditionally thought to be German, based on one red and gilt japanned cabinet formerly at Schloss Pillnitz, Dresden, that has been attributed to the Dresden workshops of Martin Schnell. The latter was responsible for the embellishment of Dresden's Hollandischen (Dutch) Palais and Schloss Pillnitz's Wasserpalais (Water Palace) (G. Hasse, Dresdner Mobel, Leipzig, 1983, no. 141). That another cabinet of exactly the same type was sold at Christie's Madrid, 16 May 1974 (illustrated in Christie's Review, 1974, p. 415) suggests the possibility of an Iberian commission, if not manufacture. To further confirm this theory, the magnificent gilt gesso bureau cabinet that until recently had remained in Portugal with an unproven Royal Portuguese provenance shares many similarities of construction with the present cabinet: the same feet (its pair, sold anonymously, Sotheby's, London, 3 June 1977, lot 93 was fitted with the original pattern of foot, four sided rebates on the underside of the drawers, a brass lock plate on the left door to receive the locking bolts, a four prong lock in the flap, similar ogival pediment profile, the same handles on the drawer fronts (again, the handles on the gilt gesso cabinet were replaced following the original pattern also found on its pair), the same pattern of handles at the sides.
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