• 500 Years: Decorative Arts Eur auction at Christies

    Sale 7830

    500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe

    21 January 2010, London, King Street

  • Lot 25

    A CHINESE GILT AND POLYCHROME CUT-LACQUER CABINET

    LATE 17TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A CHINESE GILT AND POLYCHROME CUT-LACQUER CABINET
    LATE 17TH CENTURY
    The doors and top depicting extensive landscapes, the sides and back flowers and foliage, the interior with eleven drawers decorated with birds and flowers, vases and other symbols, on an English, late 17th Century ebonised scrolled and foliate stand, losses to the stand
    56¾ in. (144 cm.) high; 34½ in. (88 cm.) wide; 19 in. (48 cm.) deep


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    Such lacquer cabinets, popularised by the East India Company imports via the Coromandel coast, were an important feature of fashionable late 17th Century bedroom apartments and were discussed in J. Stalker and G. Parker's, Treatise of Japanning and Varnishing, Oxford, 1688. The colourful and low-relief cut-lacquer was known at the time as 'Bantam-work' after the Dutch colony of Batavia in Indonesia.
    The term refers to decoration that is cut into a layer of gesso and then lacquered in colours as opposed to flat lacquer or 'japanned' decoration. The technique consisted of overlaying a base of wood with a series of increasingly fine white clays and fibrous grasses. Over this surface, lacquer was applied and polished before the design was incised and the hollowed out portions filled with colour and gilt and finished with a clear lacquer to protect it. Much of the lacquer was transhipped from China through Coromandel in India, or the Dutch colony Batavia, the former name for Djakarta, Indonesia. Although John Stalker and George Parker used the term 'Bantamwork', the contemporary layman usually called it 'cutt-work', 'cutt Japan' or 'hollow burnt Japan' (see A. Bowett, English Furniture 1660-1714, Woodbridge, 2002, pp. 151-3).

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    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium, which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.