The japanned decoration on this cabinet is a great example of the fashion for chinoiserie, which dates back to the 17th century, when European travellers brought back tales and engravings of the exotic sights they had seen in the 'Orient'. English and Dutch influences in 'lacquerwork' came to Germany in the late 17th century through the importation of Chinese and Japanese lacquer and porcelain as well as their European copies, and found their way to the mainly Protestant north German centres of Hamburg, Bremen and Brunswick and the courts of Saxony and Brandenburg.
Martin Schnell (1675-1740) was born in Dresden and began his career in the famous Berlin workshop of Gerhard Dagly (1657-1715) in 1703. Returning to Dresden in 1710, Schnell founded his own workshop and was appointed 'lacquer-maker' to Augustus the Strong. Influenced by Dagly, Schnell produced japanned works with charmingly whimsical chinoiserie scenes as depicted in this table cabinet. (Monika Kopplin and Gisela Haase, exh cat. "Sächssisch Lacquirte Sachen", Lackhurst in Dresden unter August dem Starken, Münster 1999).