9809 A RARE JACARANDA FOUR DOOR CABINET OF FINE PROPORTIONS Probably Brazilian. First Half Of The Eighteenth Century. Measurements: Height: 98 1/2″ (250 cm) Width: 44 1/2″ (113 cm) Depth: 19 3/4″ (50 cm) Inside measurements of upper section: Height: 62″ (157.5 cm) Width: 39 1/2″ (100.5 cm) Depth: 15 1/8″ (38.5 cm).
Of solid jacaranda. The upper section surmounted by an old possibly replaced plain cornice, above a pair of fielded six panel doors which open to reveal a shelved interior. The lower part with two fielded four panel doors opening to reveal a single shelf. Very old restorations. A depth differential of 1 inch between upper and lower section at the back of the piece appears to date from the time of construction.
Portuguese Private Collection
In the 17th century, cabinets and armoires became popular pieces of movable furniture in Europe, particularly in Flanders. Cabinets in the Flemish style in Brazil can be attributed to the Dutch occupation of the eastern part of the country.
The present piece is a rare example of this type of cabinet furniture in Brazil in the 18th century. Even in the previous century, only four references to cabinets in São Paulo inventories exist, the earliest dated 1620.1 According to local inventories in places like Bahia and Minas Gerais the cabinets of the first half of the eighteenth century were very simple in design and most have rustic features. Like the present cabinet, they were generally large and narrow with one or two rows of carved “pads” on the doors. Figure 1 shows a related example of this type of cabinet in mahogany dating from the 18th century in the collection of Anita M. Costa, São Paulo.
The present cabinet is made of jacaranda, the Portuguese name for trees producing rosewood timber. An easily-worked hardwood, the heartwood of jacaranda is “brown, chocolate or violet colored, conspicuously but irregularly streaked with black. The sapwood is white or buff.”2 After 1808, with the implementation of the Anglo-Portuguese Trade Treaty, jacaranda became a popular wood in British furniture-making, but was not typically found before this date. Although more commonly used as a veneer, the present cabinet is, unusually, made of solid jacaranda, as this luxury timber would have been available in plentiful supply in Brazil in the early 18th century.
- Canti, Tilde, Fernanda C. Freire, Grac ça Pedroso, and Raquel P. Henriques. O Mo óvel No Brasil: Origens, Evoluc ça ão E Caracteri ísticas. Lisboa: Fundac ça ão Ricardo do Espi írito Santo Silva, 1999. 84.
- Bowett, Adam. Woods in British Furniture-Making, 1400-1900: An Illustrated Historical Dictionary. Wetherby: Oblong Creative, 2012. 203.