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'A very curious blue cabinet of Lapis Lazuli on a wrought gilt frame'

Category

Furniture

Date

circa 1640

Materials

Lapis lazuli, slate, ebony, brass, rosewood, walnut, oak

Measurements

90.5 x 105.7 x 44 cm

Place of origin

Rome

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Collection

Belton House, Lincolnshire (Accredited Museum)

On show at

Belton House, Lincolnshire, Midlands, National Trust

NT 435082.1

Summary

A brass inlaid and gilt brass mounted ebony, rosewood and lapis lazuli table cabinet, Italian, probably Roman, circa 1640. Of architectural form, the arched pediment centre flanked by volutes above a projecting entablature supported on four free standing Corinthian columns the front entirely panelled with richly coloured lapis lazuli within ebonised and parcel gilt moulded and beaded borders. Fitted with a complex arrangement of drawers.

Full description

Lapis lazuli, as a decorative material applied to furniture is not unusual, especially on European furniture produced in the 17th century. It is a material prized for its deep ultramarine colour and its exclusivity and was generally only used sparingly to enhance pietra dure (inlaid hardstone) cabinets and other decorative objects. A cabinet of this form, the front almost entirely veneered with panels of lapis is quite extraordinary and possibly unique. Because of its rarity It is difficult to attribute a city of manufacture but the most likely source is Rome, and probably created during the second quarter of the 17th century. It is also likely that the cabinet was purchased by Sir John Brownlow, 5th Bt. later Lord Tyrconnel when he visited Italy on his Grand Tour in 1710-1711. The cabinet is not mentioned in early inventories of Belton which suggests it was sent to Tyrconnel's house in Arlington Street, London where it appears in an inventory of 1738 in the Dining Room 'A very curious blue cabinet of Lapis Lazuli on a wrought gilt frame'. The date of the current stand however does not account for the years between the cabinets arrival in London (presumably soon after 1711) and its manufacture (circa 1735), it is possible that it is a second attempt or more likely that it was first used, consistent with Italian interiors, as a 'stand alone' table cabinet and placed on an existing base. James Weedon (October 2018)

Provenance

The cabinet probably purchased in Italy by Sir John Brownlow (1690-1754) during his Grand Tour (1710-11).Listed in the Dining Room at Arlington Street, London in the 1738 inventory 'A very curious blue cabinet of Lapis Lazuli on a wrought gilt frame'.Transferred to Belton House post 1738.Sold Christie's Belton House sale 30th April - 2nd May 1984 lot 141 with an associated giltwood stand (now supporting a Japanese casket NT435120) Purchased with a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) from Edward John Peregrine Cust, 7th Baron Brownlow (b.1936) in 1984 and returned to the Belton collection.

References

Jervis and Dodd 2015 Simon Swynfen Jervis and Dudley Dodd, Roman Splendour, English Arcadia: the English taste for pietre dure and the Sixtus Cabinet at Stourhead, 2015 Rowell, Christopher 'Marriage, Divorce and re-marriage'

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