A Flemish walnut and rosewood renaissance cupboard of exceptional quality and of large size
Antwerp, circa 1635
height 59", width 75", depth 32"
Antwerp is known for producing some of Flander's finest furniture in the 17th century, and this stunning cupboard ranks among the finest of its kind. The carving is of fine quality on all three sides, with no less attention given to the sides as to the front. Walnut and rosewood are used on all exterior surfaces, applied over a carcus of oak. The lower part contains the inscription "9 AVG, ANNO 1635, DEN", undoubtedly commemorating a wedding occurring on Sunday August 9 of that year, as was the custom. The quality and large size of this piece is indicative of it having been commissioned by a wealthy family of high status, a clue of the name of which is probably indicated by the letters DEN, but is not now known.
With the establishment of the Dutch East India Company in 1602, new tropical woods, including rosewood, were being imported into the Dutch ports. It was not uncommon that the finest pieces of furniture during the 17th century included more than one kind of these woods for a beautiful contrasting effect.
Condition: In excellent condition and basically all original with the possible exception of the feet (only because they show no signs of deterioration; otherwise they look correct). There are a few small nearly indistinquishable repairs to surface areas. It retains six of the original brass mouth-rings; three are missing. The well preserved state of this piece is not surprising considering that such fine pieces were treasured, not only when made, but later as heirlooms. All hardware, including the shaped brass rings and large iron key are original.
Another cupboard of very similar style and quality is on exhibit in the Rijksmuseum, and pictured in "World Furniture", edited by Helena Hayward, 1965, page 55. Of this cupbaord the author writes, "Carved oak buffet, made in Antwerp c. 1620. Of outstanding quality, this piece represents Antwerp Mannerist carving at its height. Another interesting feature is the carved shell motif within the arched panels. The curved petal-like forms would seem to have inspired a similar feature on Newport furniture in America in the 18th century." The piece in the Rijksmuseum is made of less expensive oak.
Another very similar example (out of oak though) was sold at Christies on 24 Feb 2014, lot 367, for GBP 5,250 (about $11,000 USD, with premium).