Almost certainly Vienna. Third Quarter Of The Eighteenth Century.


Height 52 3/4" (1.29 m); Width 36 3/4" (93 cm); Depth 17" (43 cm).

Of kingwood, tulipwood, and boxwood with inlaid ebonized detailing, top of statuary marble. The two front doors and sides decorated with elaborate marquetry consisting of a border of interlocking rings each surrounding a rhombus-shaped “diamond box” arrangement of veneer, the border surrounding a larger, inner panel of “diamond box” veneer, with a twisting rosette at its center. Uppermost and lowermost frieze around sides and front inlaid with opposing Vitruvian scrolls, both centered on gilt bronze bosses, with further gilt bronze bosses on corners and on back edge, those on upper frieze issuing foliage. Central restored spring lock-bearing panel, rounded corners and pilasters along back edge with an inlaid overlapping “scale” pattern flowing from top to bottom, each with gilt bronze mount at the halfway point in the form of an oval with an elaborately draped laurel wreath surround, the center one forming the lockplate and flanking four in the form of medals with male heads. The whole exterior design compartmentalized with ebonized detailing. The original stand with cushion-molded frieze from which issue four cabriole legs with elaborate gilt bronze detailing on the feet and knees. Doors open to revea of el seven interior tiers, the lower drawer occupying the whole width of the cabinet, four tiers above with two drawers, with two open shelves above. Each drawer front with elaborate diamond-box veneers surrounded by inverted diamond box veneers of cedar wood, each with gilt bronze penny-ring handles. Interiors of doors with interior panel of veneer surrounded by a narrow border of ebony.   

There are a number of points that confirm the present cabinet is of an Austrian origin.  One of the most compelling is its similarity to pieces of furniture owned by the Austrian princely family of Hohenlohe Schillingsfürst. This family is among the oldest and most influential in the German-speaking world, having provided nineteenth century Prime Ministers to both Bavaria and Austria.1

Several pieces formerly at the family home of Schloss Baumgarten, just west of Vienna, bear a resemblance to the present cabinet, especially a secrétaire à abattant which is very much analogous to it, so much so that one may even speculate with confidence that both were the product of a single workshop (figure 1). The Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst piece is probably just a few years later in date but it still shares transitional design references, such as the escutcheon mounts, which have leaf forms derived from rococo ornament. Further shared features include the use of sumptuous exotic wood veneers laid in chevron pattern, intensely conceived boxwood engraved foliate inlaid motifs, distinctly rendered in a fashion redolent of North Italian marqueteurs such as Guiseppe Maggiolini, gilt bronze laurel mounts of extremely similar character and execution, profile relief miniature plaques in gilt bronze, pressure point mechanisms that act as a secret release for the concealed keyhole covers of the escutcheon mounts, the sparing subtle use of thin fillets of ebonized moldings, internal drawers mounted with penny ring handles in the English taste and the use of cedar wood as a veneer for the internal drawer fronts. These shared features combine to render the possibility of coincidence unlikely and the features are so distinctive as to be out of the realm of the generic.

Full research report available on request.

Full research report available on request.