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Cabinet on stand

Cabinet on stand

  • Place of origin:

    Augsburg (possibly. Such marquetry was also made in other centres in Southern Germany and Switzerland, made)
    London (probably, altered)

  • Date:

    1570-1600 (made)
    1840-50 (altered)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Marquetry of different woods on a carcase of pine, with some oak

  • Museum number:

    4250:1 to 33 -1858

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This cabinet on stand was an early acquisitions of the South Kensington Museum (the forerunner of the V&A). It would have been bought for its fine marquetry, to serve as an example to young students of the technique. At the time of acquisition it was thought to be possibly Spanish. The cabinet was, in fact, possibly made in the German city of Augsburg between about 1570 and 1600, or in one of a number of other South German or Swiss cities. At that time, Augsburg was noted for its cabinet making and a pioneer in the development of veneering and marquetry. The marquetry reflects engraved designs by Jost Amman (1539-1591) of Nürnberg.

Originally, this would have been a cabinet to stand on a table. At some time around 1850, probably in London, and possibly by the firm of Morant & Boyd, of New Bond Street. The whole piece was enlarged, with an extra base layer of drawers. To complete the transformation, it was mounted on a stand modelled on French or Flemish furniture of the late 17th century What may have been the original doors were used to create the back panel of this new stand. This complicated re-working shows just how valued such pieces were. It would have been no mean feat to design and carry out the extension to such a high standard.

Physical description

A large cabinet on stand, the upper part of architectural form and decorated all over with Augsburg marquetry of the period 1570-1600, with banks of drawers surrounding a pair of doors,with a further door to each side of these. The marquetry includes classical ruins, scenes of social gatherings of well-dressed figures against a background of a distant city, smaller hunting scenes and, on each side, marquetry of a triumphal arch with armed figures, standing and on horseback. The lowest level of drawers is an addition of the 19th century and extensions to the marquety are visible on both side panels of the cabinet. The marquetry is in sycamore, fruitwoods and other woods. The stand was made up in the middle of the 19th century, in late 17th century style, with decoration imitating the original marquetry in penwork and stain, and with the front flap or doors of the original cabinet used as the backboard to the stand. The 19th century work may have been done by the firm of George Morant Son.

Some of the 'inlay' on the legs is penwork, hightened with colour, although areas of damage make clear that the decoration is, in part at least, of marquetry. On teh columns flanking the central cupboard, the marquetry may have been created as flat panels, then steamed and bent round the columns. The capital of the columns are separate and are set cross-cornerways, presumably to allow for the depth of the carved figures above. The bases are similarly canted. The two right-hand (PL) figures are replacements, as are many of the mouldings.

Both the small side cupboards are lined with marquetry. At the back of each are 3 shelves set into carcase wood. It it likely that these were once fitted with drawers, the fronts embellished with marquetry. Inside the central drawer is a similar recess,

Construction
The carcase is of pine, except for the dividers on either side of the central drawer of the lowest tier, which are of oak. The main box or case is of dovetailed construction, with the edge of the top cut in, to allow for the seating of the cornice (which must also have been added in the 19th century). The backboard has been extended approximately 20 cm at the base, indicating clearly the depth of the section that has been added. The quality of the marquetry on the lowest tier of drawers is not as high as that above and fewer woods have been used. It seems, however, likely that these panels are of 16th-century date, rather than 19th century.

The lock fittings on the right (PL) door are of gilded and damascened iron. They may be replacements or may have been moved (there are gaps around them).

All the drawer linings of the original cabinet are stained red and appear to be of cedar, with fine dovetailing. The bases run under the sides and backs of the drawers. The drawers of the lowest tier are of pine and are much thicker. They appear to be of English construction, with fielded bases, set within grooves, the interiors with quadrant mouldings running down each side of the drawer, in a fashion typical of the mid- to late-19th century. The backs of these drawers are slightly lower than the sides. All are dovetailed. On the centre drawer of the lowest tier, the front shows on the inside two flush-set panels of pine, behind the marquetry panels.

On the sides of the cabinet, the lowest 20 cm or so of marquetry is of 19th-century date (the same height as the addition to the backboard). All the marquetry on the sides is remarkably smooth and was probably re-laid when the the additions were made. The design of the lower marquetry shows arches, the details of which may relate to the arches shown on the panels now used at the back of the base.

The cornice is made up, possibly using earlier marquetry, from the same source as the marquetry on the curving section at the top of the stand. The underside of the detachable cornice section has been adzed. It is attached with glue blocks behind.

On the stand the back panel shows a carcase of pine, with cross-pieces at each end and in the middle. 6 vertical battens have been fixed to the back to strengthen it. The marquetry, re-applied from the doors of the original cabinet, appear to have lost a framing section at the top. The two panels are identical in the design of the marquetry. The marquetry on the flanking pilasters is also early, but may come from another piece. What may be the original base of the cabinet is visible from underneath. If this is so, it has been re-applied after the addition of the base layer of drawers.

Repairs and replacements
All the small drawers were screwed shut, from the back, in the 1970s as a security measure. They were released in the 1990s. All the handles seem to be replacements. There are two varieties of chiselling and those on the lowest drawers seem to show a higher degree of finish, suggesting that the handles may have been replaced at two different times. Of the smaller size of handle, only three show detailed chiselling of the beards. The central cupboard doors are on parliament hinges that should allow them to open fully, but they catch on the base and the hinges show signs of replacement, with slips of veneer at either side. Originally the hinges would have been nailed rather than screwed. The bolts on the leading edges of the doors are not original (see the bolt holes on the base of the cupboard and corresponding areas of filler under the top). The doors appear to have a multiple core and the marquetry may have been applied to a new core. All the surfaces have been darkened, presumably to marry the two varieties of marquetry.

Place of Origin

Augsburg (possibly. Such marquetry was also made in other centres in Southern Germany and Switzerland, made)
London (probably, altered)

Date

1570-1600 (made)
1840-50 (altered)

Artist/maker

Unknown (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Marquetry of different woods on a carcase of pine, with some oak

Marks and inscriptions

There are chisel marks on the underside of the two small cupboard doors, 'III' and 'IIII'. All the small drawers are marked in pencil with arabic numerals.

Dimensions

Height: 67.5 in, Width: 55 in, Depth: 21 in

Object history note

Bought for £50. At this early date, records of firms or individuals from whom pieces were bought were only occasionally recorded. At that time it was listed as 'Spanish?'

Report, Jan. 1872 on SKM objects acquired as Spanish (generally from a Spanish source) which Senor Riaño declares not to be Spanish (Reg. Pa. 37495/1871) [MA/1/R741/1]
Note, Signor Juan Riaño was appointed as Professional Referee 1870.

4250-1858 “Early Spanish work. Webb, Cork St.” Flemish

There is note by Dr Wilhelm Bode (the famous Berlin scholar and curator, who lived 1845-1929), quoted in the original Accessions Register (date uncertain, but possibly soon after the cabinet was acquired): 'Kasten bayrisch-schwäbisch; 2 hälfte XVI Jahre. Tische davon scheint Louis XIII' [Chest bavarian-swabian; 2nd half of the 16th century. Stand (lit. 'table') appears to be Louis XIV].

It is clear that this cabinet was altered and put onto the current stand in the mid-19th century. Although the stand is, as Dr Bode noticed, of Louis XIV style, that is, in the French style of about 1650-1700, it must date from the 19th century. A table (created from a panel of Augsburg marquetry), with a similar frame and stamped by the firm of George Morant & Son, 91 New Bond Street, London, was sold at Christie's, the 'Out of the Ordinary' sale, London, 10 May 2006, lot 134. The shaped stretcheron that table is particularly close to the stretcher on this cabinet stand and it seems possible that the alterations and additions to the V&A cabinet were also made by the firm of Morant.

The marquetry now on the back of the stand shows the influence of engraved designs published by Lorenz Stoer in 1567 as Geometria et Perspective and are similar to the doors of a cabinet said to be in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, New York. The genre scenes (scenes of everyday life) that decorate the fronts of the drawers and cupboard are not from this source but are also probably based on engravings.

The figures of horse and riders on the sides of the cabinet also appear on a cabinet sold at Christie's, London, 30 November 1972, lot 93 where the figures were used on the inside of the doors. This is taken from a note on the departmental cabinet. The piece was not illustrated in the catalogue.

By the 1970s some of the small figures above the pilasters had been stolen and replaced.

A very similar cabinet on stand, also mounted with Augsburg marquetry of the 16th century, and possibly created by the same 19th-century maker (Morant ?), is illustrated in Monique Riccardi-Cubitt, The Art of the Cabinet. London, Thames & Hudson, 1992, fig. 113. That cabinet was said to be South German, its reconstruction dated between 1850-1870. That cabinet also appeared to use earlier panels for the back of its stand and is markedly similar to the V&A cabinet and the table stamped by Morant.

Descriptive line

A large cabinet on stand, the upper part of architectural form and decorated all over with South German marquetry of the period 1570-1600, with banks of drawers surrounding a pair of doors and single doors to either side, the whole raised by an additional tier of drawers at the base, with clearly visible extensions to the marquetry on the sides of the cabinet . The marquetry includes classical ruins, scenes of social gatherings of well-dressed figures against a background of a distant city, smaller hunting scenes and, on each side, marquetry of a triumphal arch with armed figures, standing and on horseback. The stand was made up in the middle of the 19th century, in late 17th century style, with decoration in penwork and stain, imitating the original marquetry, and with the front doors or flap of the original cabinet used as the backboard to the stand. The 19th century work may have been done by the firm of Morant & Son of New Bond Street, London.

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. 78-79.

Cabinet, on modern Stand, the back formed by the flap door. Marquetry of coloured woods.

Spanish.

H. 5 ft. 2 ½ in., L. 4 ft. 7 in., W. 1 ft. 9 in.

Bought, 50l.

The lid or front has been taken off and fronted with two pairs of legs, square, diminishing as they go down, and inlaid. These are connected below with each other and the back by a moulded stretcher carved in segments so as to touch each pair of legs and the back behind them, and then unite with the corresponding set. The back is inlaid, and of better work than the more modern additions. The interior of the cabinet which, as now treated, forms its most conspicuous feature, is of an architectural character. Arched drawers, with Corinthian columns, bases, surfaces, attics, cornices and other regular members, form a design, of which, perhaps, the triumphal arches of ancient Rome give the general idea. These architectural fronts and divisions open as drawers—broad, deep, long, or narrow—-in the most: unexpected fashion.
The decorations are of marquetry of coloured woods, in quaint architectural landscape designs. Cavaliers and ladies, hunting or wooing, or both combined, appear in the dresses of the late 16th century, when the tight hose and slashed breeches, ending half way down the thigh, gave place to stiff knickerbockers reaching to the knee, sometimes rigid with embroidery and tags, sometimes with common buckram, according to the quality of the wearer. They are designed with great spirit. To this period the older portions of this cabinet may be attributed. The restorations or adaptations are some 100 years later.'

South Kensington Museum, John Charles Robinson, J. C Robinson, and R. Clay, Sons and Taylor. 1881. Catalogue of the Special Loan Exhibition of Spanish and Portuguese Ornamental Art: South Kensington Museum, 1881. London: Chapman & Hall, p.120

Labels and date

CABINET
Tyrol, about 1580
Marquetry of coloured woods
4250-1858

The base made up, probably in the 19th century, using the original doors. These reflect the influence of marquetry designs by Lorenz Stoer, published in 1567 (see photograph) and are similar to the doors of a cabinet in the Brooklyn Museum, New York. The genre subjects on the cabinet itself do not seem to be paralleled in such quantity elsewhere; they are probably based on illustrations by the prolific Jost Amman (1539-1591)
[1980]
CABINET.
GERMAN; early 17th century.
Marquetry of various woods, based on prints by Jost Amman (fl. Nuremberg, 1560-1591). The original doors are incorporated into the back of the later, and probably 19th century, stand. The lowest range of drawers in the cabinet is also a later addition. 4250-1858. [Pre-2006]
CABINET
Tyrol about 1850.
Marquetry of coloured woods.

The base made up, probably in the 19th century, using the original doors. These reflect the influence of marquetry designs by Lorenz Stoer, published in 1567 (see photograph) and are similar to the doors of a cabinet in the Brooklyn Museum, New York. The genre subjects on the cabinet itself do not seem to be paralleled in such quantity elsewhere: they are probably based on illustrations by the prolific Jost Amman (1539-1591). [Pre-2002]
CABINET ON STAND
TYROL; about 1580
Marquetry of coloured woods
The base made up, probably in the 19th century, using the original doors.

The doors, now forming the base, reflect the influence of marquetry designs by Lorenz Stoer which were published in 1567, and are similar to the doors of a cabinet in the Brooklyn Museum, New York. The genre subjects on the cabinet do not seem to be paralleled in such quantity elsewhere; they are probably based on illustrations by the prolific Jost Amman (1539-91). [1994]

Materials

Pine; Sycamore; Fruitwood; Oak

Techniques

Marquetry; Cabinet making

Categories

Furniture; Containers; Medieval and renaissance

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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