This unusual cabinet combining the use of large scarlet tortoiseshell panels contrasting with the intricate raised work panels of the interior is rare for two reasons: It is veneered in tortoiseshell to all sides save the back - whereas most Antwerp tortoiseshell cabinets have timber veneered sides; the other is the combination with raised embroidered work panels to the fitted interior.
A comparable Antwerp cabinet on stand, dated 1655-1660, is in the Rijksmuseum. R. Baarsen, 17de-eeuwse kabinetten Zwolle 2000, fig 36, pp. 28-30. Both cabinet and stand are entirely veneered in tortoiseshell inlaid with bone lines. Quite possibley the present cabinet would also have had a tortoiseshell veneered stand as is the case with the Rijksmuseum cabinet.
Another Flemish cabinet with embroidered raised work was sold at Christie's King Street rooms 14, november 2002, lot 12. The raised work was of a lesser quality, and it was made of ebony rather than tortoiseshell.
The condition of the raised work on the present cabinet is very good, no doubt the doors of the cabinet were kept closed for the most part of its lifetime, saving the silks from the effects of the light. Pictorial embroideries were very popular in England from the Elizabethan era until the second half of the seventeenth century. Outside England it was also practised in Flanders. Raised works and stumpwork were fashioned after the richly embroidered ecclesiastical vestments of the period. Girls made at least one sampler, and sometimes progressed to entire narrative pictures and multiple panels as is the case with the present lot.
Tyninghame House and estate lie on the north bank of the River Tyne as it enters the North Sea. The house is a grand Baronial mansion, built of red sandstone, and represents an earlier house much altered by architect William Burn in 1829. The estate, long the property of the Archbishops of St. Andrews, has been owned by the Earls of Haddington since 1628. Inside, the house had some of the grandest and beautifully-furnished rooms of any house in Scotland and held a fine collection of early portraits. However, following the death of George Baillie-Hamilton, the 12th Earl Haddington in 1986, the house and its contents, including the present lot were sold at the premises by Sotheby's.