A rare large Vizagapatam silver-mounted and ivory-inlaid rosewood tree-of-life dressing-box, mid 18th century. Decorated overall with an engraved tree-of-life and exotic flowers and foliage, the hinged lid revealing a fitted interior with several divisions, the original perfume-bottles and a sliding mirror. The sides with silvered handles, a long drawer in the front, on bracket feet.
Vizagapatam was renowned for its cabinet-making industry which combined western forms with Indian ornamentation inspired by Coromandel chintzes, in particular inlaying wood with a profusion of distinctive floral designs in ivory. The ivory being boldly engraved and highlighted with lac (Amin Jaffer, “Furniture from British India and Ceylon”, London, 2001, pp 172-175)
Work boxes and writing-slopes were a prerequisite for East India company officials and merchants stationed in India a d many were brought back to Europe. A closely related work-box is in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Two similar examples were sold by Christie’s London, 21 May 2015.