A magnificent, visually striking and exceptionally rare cabinet on stand that dates from the latter half of the seventeenth century. The oyster veneered cabinet with two doors (with an intricate oyster pattern separated by fruitwood curved banding and fleu de lys) that open to reveal an arrangement of drawers, above the original stand with one long oyster veneered drawer standing on four spiral twist walnut legs joined by a double curved, intertwined stretcher typical of the period and standing on four silvered foliate carved hoof feet, that retain approximately 70% of their original silvering.
The woods employed are as follows. The entire carcass and all secondary woods are Scotch red pine, pinus sylvestris; the veneer to the top of the carcass, legs, moldings and feather and cross banding are English or European walnut, juglans regia and the pale wood used as an inlay is a European fruitwood, either apple or pear wood, malus or pyrus. Interestingly the oysters which seem at first glance to be lignum vitae are in fact Banksia, from the Proteaceae family, commonly known in the U.S. as lacewood. At the time this cabinet on stand was crafted the source for this timber most certainly would have been southern Africa where it is a native, but not considered commercial wood.
This extraordinary cabinet on stand relates very closely to a “scriptor” in oyster veneered “princes” wood (or kingwood) which appears in the 1683 inventory of Ham House, Surrey, the seat of Elizabeth, Countess of Dysart who married in 1672 the Duke of Lauderdale. Both were close friends of Charles II. Peter Thornton, in “Ham House”, Furniture History Society Journal, 1980 speculates that the “scriptor” (plate 83) could have been acquired in Antwerp in 1672. As the present cabinet on stand has an identical base to the Ham House “scriptor” it is possible that it was made in the same workshop. Tantalizingly, a number of cabinets listed in the late 17th century inventories do not now remain at Ham House.
English c 1680