Probably Berlin. Early Nineteenth century.


Height: 39" (99 cm); Width: 70" (177.8 cm); Depth 27 1/4" (69.2 cm).

Of finely figured mahogany. The rectangular top above a frieze containing three flush key operated drawers, each centered by an ebony inlaid shield shaped escutcheon. Below are three doors, the outer pair plain, the central door formed as four diminishing steps surrounding a central panel. Each door with a single conforming escutcheon. The whole raised on six turned feet with replaced brass toes.

In Berlin, in the early years of the nineteenth century, neoclassicism was distilled down to its purest elements to produce an aesthetic vocabulary based on form, volume and proportion often devoid of extraneous decoration and ornament. The leading exponents from Prussia were Friedrich Gilly and his more famous pupil, Karl Friedrich Schinkel. 

The present cabinet is remarkable for its austere mid-20th century like aesthetic with its purity of form and clean lines, and displays to the best advantage its finely figured mahogany. Remarkably the cabinet’s central door is defined by a most unusual stepped-form coffer motif which, appears to be modeled on the famous dome of the Pantheon in Rome (figure 1). 

The cabinet has no close known precedent but upon technical analysis it is possible to attribute it to a Berlin origin of the early years of the Golden Age of Prussian architecture and design of circa 1810.1 

1. We are very grateful to Mr. Frank Möller, the leading Prussian decorative arts scholar, for his help with researching this piece. 

Full research report available on request.