Pair of Corner Cupboards

Each stamped by Bernard van Risenburgh II
French, Paris, about 1740
Oak and maple veneered with amaranth and cherry; the doors set with panels of Japanese lacquer; vernis Martin; gilt-bronze mounts; marble tops
H: 3 ft. 3 1/8 in. x W: 2 ft. 10 3/4 in. x D: 2 ft. 1/8 in.

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Eighteenth-century craftsmen frequently dismantled objects from China and Japan and adapted them for use in European interiors. Ébénistes found ingenious solutions to adapt the valuable lacquer into new forms. The doors of a Japanese cabinet furnished the lacquer panels for these corner cupboards. The wide, central gilt-bronze mount cleverly hides the join between the two lacquer doors, and the meandering mounts frame the panels' outer edges.

The marchands-merciers (dealers) purchased lacquer objects and directed the ébénistes, who transformed them into new works appealing to wealthy French connoisseurs. The quest for lacquer was not an easy one. In 1745 one dealer wrote in a sale catalogue that "choice pieces are extremely hard to find, especially old ones. They sometimes fetch surprising prices, even in Holland." Holland was the best place to buy lacquer, since the Dutch East India Company had a monopoly on trade with Japan, where the lacquer was produced.

Detail Views

Cabinetmaker's stamp

Outline of original lock plate
Outline of original lock plate