This superb cabinet, with its lustrous panels of polychrome and Nashiji lacquer, exemplifies the most accomplished of late 17th century Japanese cabinets so favoured by European connoisseurs.
Following the Portuguese eviction from Japan in 1638, direct trade was rendered impossible to all ports but the Dutch, who were allowed a small trading post on the island of Dyushambe close to Nagasaki. This Dutch monopoly helped further raise the interest, and consequently price, for Japanese wares, and cabinets related to the present lot could be found in some of the most distinguished European collections. A closely related cabinet, similarly displaying a cockerel and a hen on its doors, was formerly in the collection of the Earl of Hardwick and subsequently sold at Christie's, London, 17 June 1993; while another superb cabinet with closely related gilt-metal mounts and intricate lockplate was in the collection of the Earls Poulett at Hinton House, Somerset, and subsequently sold at Christie's, New York, 17 October 2008, lot 55 ($104,500 including premium).
(For related lacquer cabinets see H.N. Abrahams (ed.) et al., Lacquer: An International History and Illustrated Survey, New York, 1984, pp. 128-129; M. Boyer, Japanese Export Lacquers from the Seventeenth Century in the National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen, 1959, pl XII-XX; and T. Wolvesperges, Le Meuble Français en lacque au XVIIIè siècle, Dijon, 2000, p.33 for a pair of related cabinets circa 1660).
This elegant stand, lacquered to match the exquisite nashiji on the present cabinet, is probably the work of Paul Etienne Sain (1904-1995) and Henri Tambuté (1911-1987), who shared a lacquer atelier in Paris best known for the exquisite lacquer panels and screens that it produced with both traditional and contemporary designs.