Offered by Franck Baptiste Provence
French Regional and Parisian furniture
Rare pair of Japanese lacquer travel cabinets opening with two leaves revealing seven drawers in four rows, one of which can be locked. Black lacquered wood (urushi) with decorations sprinkled with gold, silver and copper (maki-e) in high relief (takamaki-e).
The front faces decorated with a flight of wild geese above a lake landscape with two registers separated by a river with a bank for each leaf, on one side the traditional houses and the village, and on the other the nature symbolized by a pair of geese positioned at the feet of magnolias.
The top faces are decorated with swallows circling above temples perched in high mountains.
The side faces decorated with butterflies twirling above lake villages.
The rear faces, borders and interiors of the doors in aventurine lacquer known as "pear base" (nashiji), ie sprinkled with copper glitter.
The drawers with aventurine lacquer frames and a flat-bottom gold decoration (hiramaki-e) of butterflies and volubilis branches on a brown lacquer background.
Rich ornamentation in gilded bronze with mercury and finely engraved with floral decorations… including side handles, hinges, spandrels and entry of locks with phoenix heads.
Very good state of conservation. Japanese work from the Edo period (1603-1868) from the second half of the 17th century for export to Europe.
Width: 30.5 cm; Height: 32 cm; Depth: 30cm
Rennes Musée des Beaux Arts, cabinet resulting from the revolutionary seizure of the collection of Christophe-Paul de Robien (1698-1756) in 1794. (Inv 1794.1.756.1)
National Museum of Denmark Copenhagen, cabinet inventoried since 1674 in the inventory of the royal castle of Rosenborg.
Our opinion :
A rare and precious material under the old regime, Japanese lacquer is the most sought after of all lacquers, it is considered the most beautiful and the most resistant.
Highly expensive and reserved for an elite, it was the object of the covetousness of European courts but its trade was slowed down by the closure and withdrawal of Japan which after the ousting of the Portuguese in the 1630s, only tolerated a small restricted trade with the Dutch East India Company.
Due to this factor and the time required to produce quality parts, the Dutch company cannot cope with the influx of orders and imported parts are the subject of considerable speculation at auctions in Amsterdam.
In 1658, for example, Cardinal de Mazarin brought in Baron de Meslay, French ambassador to Holland and expert merchant Francis Lescot to facilitate the purchase of an extraordinary chest and the sum reached would require the sending of a war to repatriate the piece to France.
Our cabinets coated with this famous Japanese lacquer are extremely rare for several reasons, first of all because they are presented in pairs.
If few people could afford such a cabinet, few could afford two at the same time, and all the more rare are the pairs who were able to withstand the throes of the revolution and family divisions.
Finally, the state of conservation is quite exceptional, unlike many pieces our cabinets have kept the original decorations on the external faces and in particular on the tops whose decorations are generally absent or very worn.
This state of freshness is in large part due to the extreme quality of the lacquer, the thickness of its layers, which does not indicate a large production order.
This hypothesis is also confirmed by the special attention given to the fittings, unlike those in the cabinet of President Robien, they are not copper but bronze and they have been gilded with mercury.
Sparkling and particularly decorative, our cabinets are leading collector's items and perfectly symbolize the oriental taste that was fashionable under the old regime.