During the 17th century lacquer work grew in popularity and was a very significant import to Europe from China and the far east. The Emperor K'ang-Hsi, encouraged the arts in China and also foreign trade, panels of lacquer were 'flat packed' and shipped to Europe for use as screens but also to be adapted for use in furniture.
In response to the popularity for this decoration and the fact that chopped up lacquer panels rarely made a perfect composition, the Europeans developed imitations that were effectively a different technique of lacquering. The European technique, which is used on furniture and other objects, uses varnishes that have a resin base similar to shellac. The technique, which became known as japanning, involves applying several coats of varnish which are each heat-dried and polished.
Designs for Japanning were published by Stalker and Parker in 1688 "A Treatise of Japanning and Varnishing". It was the most accomplished and complete book of this period, providing fully tested recipes for anyone wishing to undertake japanned work. Professional japanners as well as amateurs used this treatise.
Giles Grendey was a cabinet maker whose busy workshops were based near St Pauls, London. Among his wide oeuvre of carved and gilded furniture, he also supplied substantial suites of japanned furniture, several of which were exported to the Spanish and Portuguese market, where the taste for lacquer was prolific. One of his best clients was the Duke of Infantado of Lazcano Castle, near San Sebastian, Spain.