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The taste in England for all things `Indian', that is, Chinese, became firmly established after the restoration of the monarchy in the 1660's, and was initially supplied by Portuguese traders who held a virtual monopoly of trade with China until the end of the 17th century. The principle articles of the luxury trade were silks, porcelains and lacquered ware that included cabinets, coffers and screens. Much of the Chinese cabinet work was deemed to be inferior to the work of English cabinet-makers. Such was the demand however for lacquer that the supply exceeded the demand and the London `joyners`, were able to profit from this producing fine quality pieces that were decorated to simulate oriental lacquer.
The methods used by the English proponents of the art of japanning as this technique was known, were fully explained in a book published in 1688 by JohnStalker and George Parker entitled A Treatise of Japanning and Varnishing Being a compleat Discovery of those Arts with the best way of making all sorts of Varnish for Japan Wood...The Method of Gilding, Burnishing, and Lackering....' The volume also included 'Above an Hundred distinct Patterns for Japan-work in Imitation of the Indians, for Tables, Stands, Frames,Cabinets,Boxes,&c.' The origins of Stalker and Parker are unclear, although the former's address at the 'Golden Ball in St James's Market, London' indicates that he was a tradesman. The publication is obviously directed to both the professional and the amateur, the 'recipes' being extremely clear in their direction, although the fascinating series of plates illustrating Oriental scenes, pursuits, flowers, trees, birds, animals and butterflies are very similar to the decoration on contemporary cabinet-work, but strangely no direct copies have ever been found.
The differences between Oriental, both Chinese and Japanese, and English work is seen in these designs. The decoration of the former is well mannered, in scale, and with reasonable perspective. English work is far more exuberant and 'colourful' in style - birds and butterflies become larger than people and buildings, and flowering trees and plants from the effect of a fantasy jungle,again totally out of scale with any other elements of the design. The present table, with its lavishly decorated surfaces ornamented with Oriental scenes and figures in gold on a rich red ground continues in this tradition, and is contemporary with Stalker and Parker's publication. They give specific directions To make Red-Japan', stating that there are three varieties, '1. The common usual Red; 2. The deep, dark,; and lastly, the light, pale Red.' Owing to the natural fading of the original pigments, it is probable that the original colour was one of the first two.
A number of leading English cabinet-makers of the late 17th and early 18th century are recorded as supplying cabinet pieces decorated with japanning, which remained fashionable in various guises throughout the 18th century. Amongst these were Gerrit Jensen (1680-d. 1715), who was possibly of Dutch or Flemish origin. He was appointed Cabinet Maker in ordinary to William and Mary in 1689 and had a number of important aristocratic clients connected to the Court. These included the 1st Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth, for whom he supplied 'glass for the door of the great chamber and for japanning the closet' the latter being incised or bantam work, and the 5th Earl of Salisbury, Hatfield House, to whom he supplied a mirror in a Japan frame 'with a folding table underneath which is also in Japan' Other makers recorded include Elizabeth Harrison of London who supplied a 'Japan Cabinet & a black carved fraime' costing l_52.in 1695 for Petworth House, and in 1704 a 'Jappan scrutoire' for Lord Bristol at a cost of L50; James Moore (c. 1670-d. 1726) whose account for 'Works done for her Grace ye Dutches of Buccllough' includes 'a Buro made of Japan & Locks', and John Gumley (1691-1727) who supplied Paul Foley in 1726 with amongst other items 'A neet Swinging Glass in a blue Japand frame Ll.4s', and Giles Grendey (1693-1780), who had a thriving export trade to the Iberian peninsular in the 1730's and 1740's of red japanned furniture, including chairs and cabinet pieces. At this period this style of decoration had temporarily fallen out of favour in England.
|Height||76.00 cm||(29.92 inches)|
|Width||102.00 cm||(40.16 inches)|
|Depth||70.00 cm||(27.56 inches)|
227 Ebury Street
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