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  • Place of origin:

    Milan (made, made)

  • Date:

    1550-1600 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wrought iron damascened with gold and silver, on wooden frame

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Rectangular cabinet of 12 drawers on a separate stand with 3 drawers; the cabinet of wood set with iron plaques, embossed and gilded; the stand also of wood, each drawer set with iron plaques embossed and gilded. The exterior covered with leather decorated with stamped and gilded designs.

Place of Origin

Milan (made, made)


1550-1600 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Wrought iron damascened with gold and silver, on wooden frame

Object history note

This cabinet recycles sixteenth-century plaques from two different sources in a nineteenth century framework. It recalls sixteenth-century Italian furniture designed to store papers and small, precious objects such as medals, cameos and shells, but the stand on which it sits, and the arrangement of drawers with decorative strips set below them, are not typical of renaissance Italian forms. The plaques that decorate the nineteenth-century frame were almost certainly taken from other furniture. The gilded and silvered strips which frame the drawers and decorate the interior of the doors are from a different source to the embossed plaques which cover the front of the drawers. In general, they have been inserted without consideration of the orientation of the vertical pattern. The plaques of gilded and silvered plaques set into the inside of the door panels are an assemblage of pieces, while the eight rectangular plaques at the top and bottom of the four columns across the front of the cabinet may be nineteenth-century reproductions. The cabinet was formerly in the collection of the French art collector and dealer, Fréderic Spitzer (d. 1890).

Descriptive line

Cabinet, iron plaques damascened in gold and silver with grotesque monsters, masks and allegorical figures, Italy 1550-1600, the wooden cabinet frame and stand perhaps 1850-1890.

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

Spitzer Collection Sale Catalogue, 1893, lot no. 2530.

Labels and date

Wood, wrought iron, gold and silver
France; the plaques c. 1550

The iron plaques are decorated damascening, when gold and silver wire are hammered into grooves in the iron surface. Milan was the principal centre for such work, but the badge and monogram of Diane de Poitiers, mistress of King Henri II of France (1547-59) on the inside of the doors, suggest that the cabinet was made in Paris. Damascened work became highly fashionable in the 16th century, and workshops were established outside Italy. Luxury items such as parade armour and jewel caskets were made, and plaques were produced to decorate furniture, although in this case the wooden frame is a 19th-century replacement. The grotesque monsters, masks and allegorical figures which ornament the plaques are typically 16th century. Other examples of damascened work can be seen in cases nearby.

Formerly in the Spitzer Collection
Museum No. M.668-1910 [07/1994]


Wrought iron; Gold; Silver; Wood


Forging (metal forming); Damascening

Subjects depicted

Allegorical figures; Masks (costume); Grotesques


Metalwork; Ironwork; Containers; Royalty


Metalwork Collection

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