Rare Japanese Mounted Chestnut Cabinet on William and Mary Chest

10407 A rare Japanese chestnut and camphor, brass mounted cabinet on its contemporary William and Mary burr elm chest, the cabinet with two doors enclosing an arrangement of nine drawers with original brass fittings, the chest with two short and two long drawers, replaced handles, and on original elm bun feet.


Japanese cabinet, 1670

English chest, 1690


Height: 61.5 ins (156 cms)

Width: 34 ins (86 cms)

Depth: 21.5 ins (55 cms)                                         £35,000


Cabinets of this type in Japanese chestnut follow the format of lacquer and the earlier carved ebony cabinets made for export to Europe. The sturdier quality of the brass mounts were thought to indicate a Batavian (now Indonesia) origin but recent research has shown that they were certainly made in Japan.

Cabinets such as these, both in polished wood or lacquer, were popular commodities for the Dutch merchants and can be found in transit records from the period. On arrival in Europe, it was necessary to design suitable stands to present them at the required height. These open stands survive in many varieties, dating from the 1670s and were often updated throughout the eighteenth century as fashions changed.

During this period, a cabinet on stand was viewed as an indispensable part of the decoration of reception rooms across the stately homes of Europe. They were copied in large numbers by European cabinet makers to supply this market but true Oriental cabinets, often identified due their transit route  as being Indian, were the most highly prized.

Exceptionally, the support made for our cabinet in 1690 follows the format of a contemporary chest of drawers with two short and two long drawers on splendid bun feet. It is veneered in finest quality burr elm, chosen to closely match the swirling chestnut of cabinet. An extremely rare survival of this period and in almost entirely original condition.

Rare Japanese Mounted Chestnut Cabinet on William and Mary Chest