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Tortoiseshell cabinet

Tortoiseshell cabinet

Cabinet: India, ca 1700; stand: probably England, ca 1720
Tortoiseshell, silver, ivory inlay, gilded wood
Cabinet: H: 62.6 x W: 78 x D: 54.2 cm; Base: H: 79.7 x W: 91.5 x D: 60.5 cm

This large cabinet is veneered with polished tortoiseshell panels to give it an additional luminosity. The sides and corners of the cabinet are decorated with ivory borders. The swing doors have an engraved gilt silver escutcheon lock decorated with birds and leafy motifs. The swing doors open to reveal 11 drawers clad with ivory frames and pull knobs.

The carved and gilded stand is a later addition to support the cabinet. It was carved in a late Baroque style, probably in England around 1720s. The four cabriole legs, a popular design in Europe, particularly France, England and Holland in the early 18th century, are carved with lions’ heads and feet further embellished with flowers and banners. The elaborate front stretchers are carved as two large acanthus leaves that spiral into volutes and joint in the centre with a sculptural mask depicting a head of a bearded man.

Produced for the European market, it is a marriage of Indian craftsmanship and European form.