In the 18th century, Mainz was a highly important centre of carpentry. Moreover, the history of furniture from Mainz has been unusually well-documented and preserved, thanks to the large number of design drawings for the carpenter's master pieces which have been preserved, documenting the changing shapes and designs of Mainzer furniture from the mid-17th to the early 19th century.
After the dark times of the Thirty Year War and the War of the League of Augsburg in the late 17th century, Mainz entered a century-long golden age, in which artistry, architecture, the fine arts and sciences flourished. Therefore, throughout the 18th century, attracted by the ample patronage of the court, the numerous churches and cloisters, and the wealthy burghers, carpenters from all over Germany were drawn to this city. Many craftsmen even came from Austria and Hungary. Yet their production is remarkably uniform.
Among the characteristics setting apart Mainzer cabinets are the typical scrolling volutes, worked free from the body, and often also used as corner elements. Most typically, they take the shape of a flat, ribbon-shaped S-scroll, and are placed on the corners at an angle, as in the free-standing lisenes of the present cupboard. The same characteristic may be found on a bureau cabinet in the Landesmuseum Mainz, cf. Wolfgang Saal, 'Ein Mainzer Schreibschrank um 1740', Patrimonia, Heft 175 (1999), Berlin.
The luxurious furniture from Mainz is further characterized by an exceptional quality of craftsmanship, and the typical 'Mainzer Cantourgen' are highly sought after. The word 'Cantourgen', from the local dialect, designates a 'small bureau', and the typical examples of master pieces from Mainz are indeed bureau cabinets.
The present lot, however, unites many of the characteristics of the 'Cantourgen', while being a cupboard, not a cabinet. This makes it an exceptional piece.
Cf. Heinrich Kreisel, Die Kunst des deutschen Möbels. Spätbarock und Rokoko, München, 1970, pp. 111-113.
H. Kreisel, Die Kunst des deutschen Möbels. Spätbarock und Rokoko, München, 1970, no. 272.
F. Arens (ed.), Meisterrisse und Möbel der Mainzer Schreiner, Mainz, 1955, plates 50 and 58.
H. Schmitz, Deutsche Möbel des Barock & Rokoko, Stuttgart, 1923, p. XLIII.