Japanese lacquercabinet on original Dutch base

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18th century
Pinewood, copper, iron, lacquer, gold
130 cm
73 cm
46 cm

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This sophisticated Japanese lacquer cabinet is lavishly decorated in the pictorial style with a mountain and river landscape including boats, people, houses and trees. On the sides of the cabinet are a number of birds and leaves. The cabinet has two doors that open forward, inside are eight drawers, two of which have locks. The hinges, lock and corner hardware are made of copper, the two carrying handles of iron. The insides of the doors are tastefully decorated with lacquer decorations of flowering plants, the drawers of the cabinet are painted with houses in a river landscape. The cabinet stands on the original, Dutch base with cross-legged and twisted legs. At the front it has a drawer with a lock. This drawer is also decorated with Japanese scenes and motifs, on the legs floral motifs. The cabinet was made in Japan for export to Europe and dates from the 18th century.

The art of lacquerwork originated early in China and was introduced to Japan in the 6th century. There it soon became an important part of art and culture.  During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries there was a great European interest in goods from Asia, traded first by the Portuguese and later by the Dutch. This demand for unusual and luxurious products that were both useful and recognizably Asian to European customers created a peak in the production of expensive Japanese lacquerware. Models of these export objects were adapted to European tastes, such as the gold-decorated lacquer cabinets, which fitted seamlessly into the kunstkammer and were used as both showpieces and storage for collections. The base for these lacquer cabinets was made in Europe, often in the same style as the cabinet itself.  


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