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The Chirk Cabinet

Flemish School

Category

Furniture

Date

circa 1640 - circa 1650

Materials

Copper, Ebony, Paint, Silver

Measurements

910 x 1075 x 495 mm

Order this image

Collection

Chirk Castle, Wrexham

NT 1170769.2

Caption

Gifted by King Charles II to Sir Thomas Myddelton in recognition of his help with the restoration of the monarchy. The cabinet opens to reveal paintings depicting scenes of the Life of Christ, which also open to reveal more paintings and beautiful silver embossing. Within the cabinet are secret compartments and hidden drawers perfect for keeping items away from prying eyes.

Summary

The Chirk Cabinet (or "The Kings Cabinet") is made of Ebony with tortoiseshell inlays, internal silver mounts with oil paintings on copper. Flemish School, 17th century, circa 1640-50. The cabinet has 3 levels, the first consists of 10 small rectangular painted copper panels from the studio of Frans Francken II (Antwerp 1581 - 1642), when under the direction of his son his son Frans Francken III (Antwerp 1607 - 1667). They show Scenes from the Life of Christ and the Seven Works/Acts of Mercy (Matthew 25: 31 - 46): To feed the hungry, To give drink to the thirsty, To clothe the naked, To visit prisoners, To shelter the stranger, To visit the sick (6), and finally To bury the dead (Book of Tobit) - surrounded by silver mounts. The 2nd level consists of 10 drawers faced with silver mounts with putti, dolphins, monkeys, lions and birds and two outer opening doors also with silver mounts. These doors reveal the 3rd level which has a floor of fielded panels of red tortoiseshell, 8 drawers with silver mounts and a central mirrored recess. There are 3 hidden drawers or compartments within the main body of the cabinet. The inside of the fall front and main outer doors have octagonal painted copper oil paintings with silver mounted frames. There is also a pull out slide tray inlaid with tortoiseshell and a top opening mirrored lid that reveals a velvet lined shallow tray.

Provenance

Traditionally said to have been given by Charles II to Sir Thomas II Myddelton (1586 - 1666) in 1661 in thanks for his role in the restoration of the monarchy, and thence by descent; purchased by the National Trust from Captain David Myddelton, 1993, with the help of grants of £100,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, of £50,000 from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund and of £35,000 from the Art Fund (then called the National Art Collections Fund).

Credit line

Chirk Castle, The Myddelton Collection (National Trust)

Makers and roles

Flemish School, artist

References

Jervis, 1993: Simon Jervis, Cabinets in Britain, Grosvenor House Antiques Fair Handbook, London, 1993, pp.26-27 Bühren 1998 Ralf van Bühren, Die Werke der Barmherzigkeit in der Kunst des 12.–18. Jahrhunderts. Zum Wandel eines Bildmotivs vor dem Hintergrund neuzeitlicher Rhetorikrezeption, Studien zur Kunstgeschichte, vol. 115, 1998

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