Joseph Cremer was an artiste en mosaïque et marqueterie and the present cabinet is a masterful example of his art. Born in 1811 and active in Paris between 1839 and 1878, Cremer is first recorded at 29 rue de L'Entrepôt as an ébéniste specialising in marquetry. His prestigious patrons included King Louis-Philippe and the King of Holland. Another cabinet signed Cremer, with green stained ivory foliage frieze drawers like those to the present lot, bears a gilt crowned interlaced LOL for Louis-Philippe's second son, Louis d'Orleans (1814-1896), sold Sotheby's, London 4 November 1988, lot 218.
Cremer was awarded numerous medals, culminating in a Médaille d'Honneur at the 1862 London Great Exhibition, the jury at the 1855 Paris Exhibition declared 'Comme ton, comme dessin, il est impossible d'atteindre dans un travail de marqueterie à plus d'harmonie et de justesse'. Another cabinet signed Cremer, which was apparently shown at the 1851 Great Exhibition in London, shares with the present lot very similar cut-brass-inlaid paneled doors, sold Christie's, London, 29 September 1988, lot 129.
The exterior of this cabinet is set with panels of green and red stained tortoiseshell finely inlaid with cut-brass and pewter scrolls in the Bérainesque style of André-Charles Boulle. Above are frieze drawers with green-stained ivory rinceaux feuillagés. The entire inside of the central door is inlaid with a remarkably vibrant marquetry panel depicting a ruined nave, whilst the reverse of each flanking door is lavishly decorated with a classical flower-filled urn. Even the interior base to the flanking cupboards and the reverse of the side doors are decorated with marquetry.
The exceptional craftsmanship is further exemplified by the intricacies of the internal fitments. For example to the central portion, beneath the frieze drawer, is a further drawer with a fall-front concealing a writing slide. The central hinged door opens, and slides into the cabinet, exposing five drawers. Beneath this, the apron is fitted with three drawers: the central drawer opening to reveal a fold-out prayer stool.