'The Doomer Ebony Cabinet stand'
attributed to Herman Doomer (1595-1650)
Ebony, mother of pearl, oak
230 x 123 x 56 cm
Place of origin
AmsterdamOrder this image
The Argory, County Armagh
An ebony and mother of pearl inlaid stand for 'The Doomer Cabinet' attributed to Herman Doomer (b. Anrath, Germany c. 1595 - d. Amsterdam, Netherlands 1650) circa 1640 with some later alterations and additions. With a drawer to the frieze and applied carved apron, raised on square section baluster legs with carved panels and tied by stretchers, turned bun feet
By tradition, the ebony cabinet, with its extraordinary auricular cresting and mother-of-pearl inlaid flowers, had been thought to have been made in India and brought to Northern Ireland in the mid-nineteenth century. As Simon Jervis has shown, however, it is actually Dutch and, based on its close resemblance to a piece at the Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam, can be dated around 1640-50. Reinier Baarsen confirmed the attribution to Herman Doomer in his 2018 exhibition catalogue, because of the high quality of the piece (see Reinier Baarsen, Kwab: Ornament as Art in the Age of Rembrandt (ex. cat.), Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam 2018, pp. 118-9). Ebony was a highly sought after material in 17th century Holland. It is both an expensive and very hard wood, which made it all the more desirable. As Baarsen recently argued, ebony ‘did not lend itself easily to rendering of auricular ornament. Indeed, this does not figure prominently in Doomer’s work, although he did tend to soften his carved motifs in the fashionable manner’ (Baarsen 2016). Simon Jervis stressed that while ebony cabinets were often decorated with ivory, silver or gilt bronze mounts or indeed pietre dure plaques, ornamentation made of mother-of-pearl was significantly rarer and reminiscent of black lacquer screens imported from Japan (Jervis 1998). They, too, combined a shiny black surface with the glowing silvery shine of mother-of-pearl. Herman Doomer came from Germany and has often be associated with Rembrandt’s frame maker, when in reality he never made carved frames. His speciality were works made of ebony with highly elaborate mother-of-pearl inlay, such as can be seen on the cabinet at The Argory. Rembrandt portrayed Doomer and his wife in 1640. The portrait of the husband, of which there is a contemporary copy at Erddig, Wrexham (NT 1151313), exits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (29.100.1), while the portrait of the wife is kept at the Hermitage in St Petersburg (ГЭ-729).
Possibly made in the workshop of Herman Doomer, Amsterdamn circa 1640. Probably purchased by Walter McGeough Bond (1790-1866) during the 1820's and 30's for The Argory, County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Given to the National Trust by Walter Albert Nevill MacGeough Bond (1907 - 1986) in 1979.
Makers and roles
attributed to Herman Doomer (1595-1650), cabinet-maker
Jervis, 1998: Simon Jervis. “Ebony at The Argory: “Een Ebbenhout kabinet met parlemoer ingeleydt”.” Apollo (1998): pp.42- 44. Baarsen, Reinier, Kwab: Ornament as Art in the Age of Rembrandt (ex. cat.), Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam 2018 Baarsen, Reinier 'Herman Doomer, ebony worker in Amsterdam' The Burlington Magazine, vol.CXXXVIII no.1124 (November 1996)