Cabinet on stand
Lacquered wood with gold and red, inlaid with mother of pearl, engraved brass mounts and hinges, on a carved bronzed and gilded wood stand
106 x 76 x 47 cm
Place of origin
KyotoOrder this image
Ham House, Surrey (Accredited Museum)
On show at
Elizabeth Dysart spent a considerable sum extending Ham House, and also on furnishing it. She bought exotic objects from all over the world and was particularly fond of lacquer objects like this cabinet from Japan. Curiosities and small precious objects would have been displayed inside.
A Japanese lacquer cabinet,"namban", circa 1630, from a pair with (NT 1139896.1), lacquered in gold on black and inlaid with mother of pearl, mounted with engraved brass hinges, lockplate and corners. The top, the side panels and the doors are decorated with flowering plants and birds, opening to an interior with six drawers and two small doors with escutcheons. The cabinet is raised on a small shaped plinth, supported on a low stand with caryatid legs to form a pair with cabinet stand (NT 1139896.2). Supported by four caryatid legs formed of putti, terminating in ball and claw feet, joined by a shaped stretcher, these stands were made en suite with a pair of long stool (NT 1139898.1-2) to accompany the table with silver mounts (NT 1139895). Such caryatid legs were indeed intended to make a suite to the table designed for the same room after a design influenced by Charles Le Brun's drawings engraved by Le Pautre. Although the inspiration for the table is French, as for the pairs of long stools and the present cabinet stands, the origin of their manufacture is unclear. The pair of Japanese lacquer cabinets have probably been purchased by Elizabeth Murray, 2nd Countess of Dysart, as she loved Oriental lacquer. The pair of stands were commissioned circa 1670 to support them, in order to be placed in the Green Closet that she embellished then, before her marriage to the Duke of Lauderdale (1672). The pair of cabinets on stands are listed in Ham House's 1677 inventory. The cabinets on stands have always been placed in the Green Closet on either side of the chimney piece, facing the long stools, as can also be seen in H.W. Brewer 's watercolour of the Green Closet circa 1886 (Private collection).
The Ham House's inventory of 1677 lists in the Green Closet : "Two Japan Cabinetts"; in 1679: "Two Japan Cabinets & frames". Acquired in 1948 by HM Government when Sir Lyonel, 4th Bt (1854 – 1952) and Sir Cecil Tollemache, 5th Bt (1886 – 1969) presented Ham House to the National Trust, and entrusted to the care of the Victoria & Albert Museum, until 1990, when returned to the care of the National Trust, and to which ownership was transferred in 2002.
Rowell 2013 Christopher Rowell (ed.), Ham House 400 Years of Collecting and Patronage, Yale, 2013, p.28