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Cabinet on stand

Category

Furniture

Date

circa 1770

Materials

Ivory, padouk or rosewood

Measurements

163 x 110 x 77 cm

Place of origin

Vizagatappatam

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Collection

Kingston Lacy Estate, Dorset (Accredited Museum)

On show at

S.E. Cabinet Room, Kingston Lacy Estate, Dorset, South West, National Trust

NT 1254548

Caption

Craftsmen in the Indian east coast port of Vizagapatam, in the early 18th century produced furniture for western consumers. Their highly intricate wood and ivory veneered pieces were not often large but instead small and portable.

Summary

An ivory inlaid rosewood or padouk and engraved ivory mounted cabinet on stand, Vizagapatam, India, circa 1770 The upper section with moulded cornice and a pair of cupboard doors enclosing an architectural fitted interior of balustraded balconies, recesses and various drawers incorporating ivory columns and profusely inlaid with floral and scroll designs. The stand with a shaped apron, and cabriole legs and lion's paw feet. The doors each inlaid with a palm tree hung with a bow and arrow motif and garlands of flowers to the base within a border of scrolls and vines. The stand inlaid with a shell motif to the apron with further floral scrolls and scroll and acanthus decoration to the cabriole legs.

Full description

This extraordinary cabinet on stand is inspired by 18th century English models and is an interesting hybrid combining the design of a 1760s bureau cabinet top and a stand derived from an English or Dutch table or chair design of the 1740s and 50s. It was made at Vizagapatam, a port on the east coast of India famous for its distinctive cabinet work. The maker has decorated the cabinet with a combination of ivory inlaid rosewood and solid engraved ivory and has used a combination of exotic and western decorative features. A closely related Vizagapatam cabinet of slightly earlier date, circa 1765, from the collection of The Victoria and Albert Museum, London (IS.289&A-1951) echoes the same basic form albeit with a transitional mix of engraved veneers and inlaid decoration. Interestingly it is engraved with depictions of Old Montagu House taken directly from a plate engraved by J. Green after watercolours by Samuel Wale (c. 1721-86) published in R. and J. Dodsley, London and Its Environs Described, 1761 (ibid., pp. 72-73, no. 29). The stylised palms engraved to the end panels can also be seen inlaid to an earlier Vizagapatam linen press of circa 1760, sold Christie’s, London, 9 December 2010, lot 40, whilst the design and form of the leg is particularly close to that used for a pair of Vizagapatam ivory veneered chair-back settees of circa 1770, purchased by King George III from the collection of Alexander Wynch (former governor of Madras), which remain in The Royal Collection (RCIN 489). A closely related near pair of engraved ivory small bureaux-cabinets, almost certainly supplied to General Sir John Dalling, 1st Bt. (c. 1731-1798) whilst Commander-in-Chief in Madras circa 1786 was sold Christie's, London, 23 September 2005, lot 121. There are several distinctive pieces of Vizagapatam cabinet furniture in the National Trusts collection; a dressing table in the Clive Collection, Powis Castle, Wales (NT1180668) which was acquired by Robert Clive (d.1774). Clive served a number of terms in India, first travelling to Madras in 1744 as a writer or clerk in the East India Company though distinguishing himself in military actions, and then serving in Bombay (1755-60) and Bengal (1765-67). The dressing- table, with a closely matching though not integral toilet-glass, must have been acquired in his first or second term of service since it is recorded that the feet were replaced by the London cabinet-maker George Bradshaw in 1761. Another, also with an associated dressing mirror, is at Anglesey Abbey, part of the Lord Fairhaven collection and dated circa 1770. See also Sotheby's, New York, Property from the Collection of Lily and Edmond J. Safra, 3 November 2005, lot 144 also executed in padouk, it features similar marquetry with large flowers and tied ribbons to the corners. It was acquired from Mallet & Son in 2002 and was illustrated in Lanto Synge, Mallets Great English Furniture, 1991, p. 184, fig. 210. For extensive research and further discussion see: Jaffer, Amin 'Furniture from British India and Ceylon' V&A publications 2001. James Weedon (October 2018)

Provenance

Bequest of the estates of Corfe Castle and Kingston Lacy made to the National Trust by Henry John Ralph Bankes (1902-1981). NT ownership commenced from 19th August 1982.

References

Jaffer 2001 : Amin Jaffer, Furniture from British India and Ceylon, a catalogue of the collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Peabody Essex Museum, London, V&A publications, 2001. Jaffer 2002 : "Luxury goods from India, the art of the Indian cabinet maker", London, V&A publications, 2002.

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