Today’s Flora & Fauna catalogue highlight is this exceptional Japanese Edo period black and gilt lacquer cabinet decorated throughout, including the top, with mountain landscape scenes. The cabinet features a pair of doors with copper engraved mounts, hinges, and lock-plates that open to reveal ten drawers of varying sizes similarly decorated with foliage. The interior doors are decorated with birds and flowers within a nashiji border, and the sides of the cabinet are decorated with foliage and copper carrying handles. The cabinet is now on a modern gilt stand.
The art of lacquering originated in Asia and has been used since antiquity. Lacquer is made by applying successive coats of the sap of the Rhus vernicifera, or lac-tree, onto wood. During the 17th century lacquer work grew in popularity and was a very significant import to Europe from China and Japan. Japanese cabinets were particularly highly prized and would be placed on stands in European homes.
The lavish decoration on these cabinets, both on the exteriors of the cabinets as well as on each internal drawer, derives inspiration from nature. Sweeping landscapes showing rocky formations by the water are interspersed with depictions of birds, insects, and floral arrangements.