The art of lacquering originated in China with the discovery of the protective properties of the sap of the lacquer tree. When applied to wood or metal, the sap forms a hard, durable semi-trnasparent film which can then be used to coat the surface of most materials. The benefit of the lacquer, beyond its preservative nature, is that it provides a smooth surface which can then be colored, painted or carved. Europe, towards the end of the seventeenth century, became fascinated by all goods associated with China and in response, trading companies such as the East India Company began to commission Chinese artisans to produce Chinese designs on Western forms. Bureaux-cabinets of this style decorated with Chinese scenes were first recorded as imports to England in 1683.
Another example of this form was sold Christie's London, the property of a private collector, 8 July 1999, lot 125. The Schieszler cabinet exhibits an unusual carved foliate cornice.