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  • Place of origin:

    France (made)

  • Date:

    1577 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Three stage cabinet or dressoir, with carved panels displaying emblematic devices and inscriptions.

Consisting of a high upper cupboard with deep cornice, with two doors ornamented with strapwork and grotesques which surround a cartouche containing: (Left) dolphin and anchor device SEMPER FESTINA LENTE 1577; (right) flaming vases and drops PROBASTI ME ET COGNOVISTI ME. The central and lateral fixed 'panels' with male term figures. On the central muntin is inscribed ADVERBIS DURO, and a shield charged with a mountain, in base, a crescent and three stars above, and a cypher, containing the letters A. D. S.
The mid-section consists of a cupboard with two doors carved with stylised masks: (left) female, and (right) male, with a central strapwork cartouche and four stiles with an interlace geometrical design.
The open base has a plain 'floor' and each of the two front legs of openwork strapwork has a male mask.

Place of Origin

France (made)


1577 (made)



Materials and Techniques



Height: 206 cm, Width: 136 cm, Depth: 58 cm

Object history note

Puchased for 20l.

Historical context note

The classical adage Festina Lente (Make haste slowly) was combined from the Roman period onwards with the image of a dolphin entwining an anchor, and used in his publications as his emblem by the Venetian printer and publisher Aldus Pius Manutius (1449 – February 6, 1515) from 1499.

PROBASTI ME ET COGNOVISTI ME is taken from Psalm 139 v.2 (Vulgate psalm 138. v2.) [O Lord], thou has searched me and known me.

Descriptive line

Three stage walnut cabinet or dresser, France, 1577

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Ancient and Modern Furniture & Woodwork in the South Kensington Museum, described with an introduction by John Hungerford Pollen, (London, 1874), pp.56-57.

Cabinet. Carved walnut wood, with walnut fronts; the panels carved with emblematic devices.

French. Dated 1577.

H. 6 ft. 9 in., L. 4 ft. 5 ½ in., W. 1 ft. 11 in.

Bought, 20l.

This piece is unlike those generally met with and made in the northern and central towns of France. It consists of a double set of cupboards and an open unbacked stand or lower part. The upper door panels are nearly double the depth of the lower. They stand backwards some inches. The supports are two pierced pieces of strapwork in front and two square balusters behind. They are on a plain base. The door panels are boards without mouldings, but are enriched with strapwork, birds, and arabesques in relief. Each panel has a scutcheon in its centre. On one is the device of the dolphin and anchor, with the legend round it, “SEMPER FESTINA LENTE,” and the date 1577. The left hand scutcheon is charged with the flaming vases and drops of the armorial bearings of René de Provence, and the motto or legend “PROBASTI ET COGNOVISTI ME”.* In the centre, between the doors, and on the sides, are terminal figures, human-headed, with two faces “regardant," looking back at each other. These end in scrolls in high relief. On the central terminal figure is a shield charged with a mountain, in base, a crescent and three stars above, and a cypher, containing the letters A. D. S. The lower door panels are decorated with masks and strapwork. The work is much as it was left ‘two centuries ago, and has preserved the look of age generally lost under incessant rubbings, and coats of wax, if not of varnish. The wood has an appearance much lighter than that of walnut. The date is fortunately preserved, but the armorial insignia upon the doors leave us in some doubt of its origin, the monogram being taken to indicate it as made for Aldus, the printer. Aldus Manutius, however, died in I574 or 5, and "his son, who never lived in France, in 1597.

(* Inside the right-hand door we read, written in ink: " TV ES REFVGIVM MEVM A TRIBVLATIONE quae circumdedit me; exaltation mea crue me a circumdantibus me;“ and below—“ Car joy en mon espore feignieur tu m‘exauferas;“ and below that-“ Donne moy a cognoistre la vie eternelle je chemincray, car jay eslimé mon affection.“ We cannot consider this writing as earlier than the 17th century).






Renaissance (French); Furniture


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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