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Adam Weisweiler, German, 1744-1820, Chest of Drawers with Doors (Commode à vantaux), ca. 1780Ebony, mahogany, Japanese lacquer, French resin varnish, and copper alloy with mercury gilding and marble; 38 5/8 x 58 7/8 x 24 inches (98.11 x 149.53 x 60.96 cm). Purchase: the Kenneth A. and Helen F. Spencer Foundation Acquisition Fund, F70-43 A,B. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art ©2012 Nelson Gallery Foundation

Contrasting cultures and materials were harmoniously orchestrated by Weisweiler to create this chest’s eclectic mix of restrained Neoclassical ornament, softened by graceful Japanese naturalistic scenes. Gilt caryatid figures standing guard in the corners represent a renewed interest in the classical past. The inclusion of the Japanese lacquer panels exhibits Europe’s continued fascination with Asian art. Weisweiler’s reputation for faultless craftsmanship is reflected in the precision of theormolu (gilt-bronze) architectural moldings framing the landscapes. Bordering these panels is French vernis martin lacquer, made to mimic quartz by suspending minute clippings of gold wire or copper crystals in the lacquer.