This spectacular bureau cabinet is decorated throughout with the charming technique of cutting up prints to imitate the visual effects of lacquer, known variously as lacca povera, arte povera, or lacca contrafatta. The printed scenes, which vary from extravagant rocailles, to maritime scenes and Watteauesque pastorales, are all set on a ground of golden yellow, which, combined with the sculptural giltwood cresting, gives a tremendously rich visual scheme.
Venice, with its extensive trading contacts with the East, was one of the first cities in Europe to produce imitations of oriental lacquer, and japanned cabinets such as this example are among the most spectacular of all the creations of the Venetian cabinet-makers. Other examples include one sold from the collection of Eva, Countess of Rosebery, sold Sotheby's London, 30 November 1990, lot 94 (£159,500), and another in the Museo Civico, Milan (illustrated in S. Colombo, L'Arte del Legno e del Mobile in Italia, Milan, 1981, fig. 407).