Feature Mondays - Augsburg 17th-century ebony cabinet archive
Monday 18 July 2016
We take a look at one of the lots from Bonhams’ recent ‘Europe – Defining Style’ auction
This 17th-century table cabinet recently went under the hammer at Bonhams’ ‘Europe – Defining Style’ auction, which featured fine European furniture, works of art, sculpture and silver and gold boxes. The Augsburg table cabinet has a triumphal-arch facade and features ripple-moulded ebony (Diospyros spp.), white metal and scarlet tortoiseshell. The mounts are in the manner of German goldsmith, Wenzel Jamnitzer.
The facade is surmounted by a broken arch architectural pediment, on which are seated figures representing Night and Day, flanked by putti depicting The Four Seasons. There are four short drawers to each side and one long drawer applied with chased mounts and flanked by Corinthian columns. Its mirrored tabernacle compartment reveals a triumphal arched niche with a bas-relief of the Triumph of Venus derived from the Judgement of Paris, while the fretted medallion bas-relief of the base appears to depict a scene from the Trojan wars. The triumph of Ceres, goddess of Agriculture, with the laying aside of arms, is celebrated in one of the other drawer medallions. The pierced three-quarter balustraded gallery with cast urn and foliate finials is above a sliding rectangular sprung top, which encloses a secret compartment, above a central recessed mirrored niche with turned pilasters and a central cast mount of Venus and Cupid on a chequered ebony and ivory floor. The cabinet rests on ball feet and measures 60cm wide, 27cm deep and 62cm high.
A comparable cabinet previously in the possession of Archduke Ferdinand II (1529–1595) in ebony and silver is now in the collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.