Antwerp around 1650
Padouk veneered with ebony, red underlaid tortoise shell, inlaid with composition and fittings of gilded copper
The two-door cabinet stands on its original stand with six richly turned ebonized legs and a tortoiseshell veneered frame hiding a large shelf.
Opening the central doors, the rich pictorial program surprises with painted scenes on 16 copper plates, mostly from Ovid's Metamorphoses.
The scenes are executed in a style influenced by Peter Paul Rubens - the city's most famous artist. Antwerp became the most important European center for the production of pomp cabinets in the 17th century. It took over the role of Augsburg, which had been a leader for such luxury furniture until the 30-year war.
As usual, the two large scenes in the door are the most carefully painted, the left door depicts Fama taking Hersilia to heaven, the right door depicts Apollo/Mercury spying Aglauros, Pandrosos, and Herse, the daughters of Kekrops. Both scenes can be interpreted as allegories of peace and probably refer to the end of the 80-year war in the Netherlands in 1648.
On the drawers and the middle doors are depicted popular metamorphoses such as Pan and Syrinx, Jupiter and Callisto, Procris and Cephalus, Meleager and Atalante, and Vertumnus and Pomona.
For the most valuable cabinets, the combination of ebony veneer, wavy moldings and tortoise shell, backed with red foil to better show off the tortoise shell, is quite typical. In addition, there are small ebony panels inlaid with artful motifs in an artificial, shimmering mass that imitates colored marble or stone. This technique, which was also used elaborately in the interior, made the Antwerp cabinets particularly precious.
The small doors in the middle of the display front are decorated on the inside in the same technique as on the outside. These small doors close a so-called perspective, a small room with mirrored walls and a very refined patterned floor in bone and tortoise shell, on which a small valuable piece of art or goldsmith's work could be placed; such perspectives distinguish Antwerp art cabinets.
Art cabinets of this type spread the fame of the city of Scheldt as an art center and were the most sought-after luxury goods throughout Europe. Very few pieces of this quality have been preserved and the cabinet presented here is a particularly precious example.
It is a great pleasure that it has been preserved in this condition in private ownership.
Height: 195 cm, width: 127 cm, depth: 54 cm