This richly flowered tea-chest is japanned and mosaiced à la chinoise in trompe l'oiel lacquer with scissor-cut and polychromed prints. Birds, butterflies, baskets and bouquets accompany Chinese pastoral and sporting figures, while a vignette of a lady at her 'toilette' is appropriate embellishment for a lady's reception/dressing room. Such objets d'art, harmonised with contemporary William IV papier maché or tôle peinte, tea-trays etc., and relates to the fashion for cut-work or découpage discussed in Robert Sayer's, The Ladies' Amusement or The Whole Art of Japanning Made Easy, 1760.
St. Petersburg's 'Magasin Anglais', retailing goldsmith's work and decorative objects, was founded in 1789 as M. Hoy's English Shop (Hoy Bellis and Co.) and taken over in the 1830s by Messrs Nicholls & Plincke, who also traded with China, India and the Ottoman Empire, and became popularly known as 'Silversmiths to the Tsars'. The firm continued to operate until 1880.