Decorated with breathtaking pictorial marquetry to top, front, back and sides as well as virtually all interior surfaces, this table cabinet is almost certainly one of the finest examples of such precious cabinets produced in Augsburg at the end of the 16th century.
From the middle of the 16th century, Augsburg had witnessed an extraordinary ascendency as a centre of furniture production for the international market, a new phenomenon at the time. In particular, the development of marquetry contributed to this prominent position, favoured by the ready availability of a large variety of indigenous woods and the invention of improved types of saws and other equipment. Augsburg marquetry of the time almost invariably depicts ruins, as on the present cabinet as well as the celebrated 'Wrangelschrank' in the Landesmuseum Münster, which is dated to 1566 and although slightly more architectural in the layout of its interior is certainly closely related in its marquetry to the present cabinet. Already in 1567, a collection of prints by Lorenz Stöer with perspective views of ruins combined with strapwork was published in this city, particularly influential was his 'den Schreiner in eingelegter Arbeit dienstlich'.
16th century marquetry of this kind remained highly popular throughout later ages and was frequently adapted to new uses. Thus, in Holland one such cabinet was encased as early as the second half of the 17th century in a fashionable new piece of furniture (R. Baarsen, 17th-century cabinets, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam 2000, pp. 3-9, figs. 5-11) and panels taken from another such piece were re-employed on a chest of drawers probably made in Turin in the middle of the 18th century, now at Waddesdon Manor (see G. de Bellaigue, The James A. de Rothschild collection at Waddesdon Manor: Furniture, Clocks and Gilt Bronzes, Fribourg, 1974, No. 119). It is particularly exciting to find such a superb example of these late 16th century marquetry cabinets in such well-preserved original and virtually un-touched condition.