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The Erddig 'Red Japan Cabinate' - circa 1720

possibly John Belchier (fl. 1687 - 1753)

Category

Furniture

Date

circa 1720

Materials

Scarlet japanning on an oak and deal carcase, beech, mercury-backed glass, brass, silk, gilt, silver gilt, iron

Measurements

217 x 103 x 58 cm

Place of origin

London

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Collection

Erddig, Wrexham (Accredited Museum)

On show at

Erddig, Wrexham, Wales, National Trust

NT 1147081

Summary

A scarlet-japanned bureau cabinet, or desk and bookcase, English, circa 1720, possibly by John Belchier (fl. 1717 - 1753). The cabinet section topped by a double-arched cornice above a pair of doors each fitted with a pair of shaped and arched mercury-backed and beveled mirror plates. The doors enclosing seven pigeonholes above a central pair of concave cupboard doors between stop-fluted Doric columns and four flanking tall pigeonholes with ogee-fronted divisions. These above an arrangement of eight small drawers of various sizes, some of them concave. The bureau with hinged fall lined to the inside with a writing surface before pigeonholes and drawers. The fall supported on lopers and above two short and two graduated long drawers within double bead carcase mouldings. With a base moulding and four bun feet. Decorated all over in silver and silver gilt with Chinoiserie motifs, scenes, birds and flowers and foliage. With brass locks, handles and door catches. Iron hinges. Stamped 'RF' - probably the initials of the joiner who made the cabinet prior to japanning - on the leading edge of the top of the bureau section.

Full description

This remarkable cabinet, with original brasses, feet and mirror glass, was possibly made by John Belchier (1717 - 1753), who supplied furniture and mirrors to Erddig in the late 1710s and 1720s. Other very similar cabinets bear his trade label. The top of the bureau (the part directly beneath the cabinet top) is stamped 'R.F.', possibly for the joiner or cabinet-maker. Three other pieces with this stamp are known. Another is the black-japanned bureau cabinet, also at Erddig [NT 1147114]. This scarlet-japanned bureau cabinet is one of the most iconic pieces of early 18th century furniture to survive, and is remarkable in that it remains in the house for which it was made.

Provenance

Listed in the 1726 Inventory as part of the contents of the 'Blew Mohair Room' a 'Red Japan Cabinate'. Given by Phillip Yorke III (1905-1978) along with the estate, house and contents to the National Trust in 1973.

Marks and inscriptions

On leading edge of lower half top: RF

Makers and roles

possibly John Belchier (fl. 1687 - 1753), cabinet maker

References

Bowett 2009, Early Georgian Furniture 1715 - 1740 (2009), Illustrated and discussed pp. 60 - 61, Plate 2:16

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