This distinctive side cabinet was made by F. & C. Osler, Birmingham for the 6th Nizam of Hyderabad, Asaf Jah VI Mir Mahboob Ali Khan Siddiqi (d. 1911) for his Chowmahalla Palace in Hyderabad, southern India. A drawing, design no. 2819, for the cabinet is part of Osler's original working sketches held at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.
Wealthy Indian rulers with opulent tastes, characterised by their luxurious palaces decorated with inlaid walls with coloured glass and mirrored inserts, enthusiastically embraced the idea of glass furniture. In addition to its prismatic quality and miraculous construction, glass furniture was cooling in India's climate extremes and did not deteriorate in the manner of its wooden counterparts (J. Shadel Spillman, European Glass Furnishings for Eastern Palaces, New York, 2006, p. 38).
The firm of Osler was established in 1807 by Thomas Osler in Broad Street, Birmingham, and first produced small ornaments and glass prisms for chandeliers. Osler's sons, Follett and Clarkson, assumed control of the firm in 1831 eventually reorganising it as F. & C. Osler, moving to new premises, and in 1852, opening their own glass factory. As early as 1840 the Oslers were associated with a silver and jewellery house in Calcutta where, by 1843, they had a full time agent and shortly thereafter opened a store at Dalhousie Square. It is testament to the strength of the Indian market for their wares that Osler had a shop in Calcutta before opening London premises at 44 Oxford Street in 1845.
F. & C. Osler was certainly the largest supplier of glass objects to India, and from the late 19th century and early 20th these included glass furniture. Osler produced chairs, settes, beds and tables exclusively marketed to Indian princely families through their Calcutta showroom. A substantial order from Osler of tables, armchairs, beds and fountains was made by Maharana Sajjan Singh (d. 1884), and although he died before it arrived, his collection is today preserved in the crystal gallery at the Fateh Prakash Palace, Udaipur. Not to be confused with the proliferation of modern copies, original surviving furniture by Osler is rare, and side cabinets particularly so; the exception apart from the present cabinet is a large cabinet, design no. 2996, dated 1887 (ibid., p. 71, Figure 3-22). Further examples include a magnificent pair of cut glass occasional tables whose mirrored tops with thumb-cut borders are similar to that found on the present cabinet, sold Christie's London, 23 September 2010, lot 332 (£33,650 including premium), and a throne chair, sold Christie's London, 20 September 2012, lot 125.