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Lot 86. A South German gilt-metal mounted, ebonised and carved table cabinet, possibly Augsburg, early 17th century; 94 cm. high; 78cm. wide: 38cm. deepEstimate: 8,000 - 12,000 GBPUnsold. Photo Sotheby's.

of architectural stepped and breakfront shape, with a central door with a plaque depicting Perseus coming to Andromeda's rescue, the upper frieze drawer double-sided and with four engraved game boards, and with a further quantity of smaller and wider drawers mostly lined with marbleized paper painted with flowers or birds, with some losses and worm damages.

Property of a German Nobleman.

NoteThe striking contrast of the ebonized wood and gilt-metal plaques of the present cabinet are typical features of South German table cabinets executed in the 17th century, for example, in the workshops of Melchior Baumgartner, Boas Ulrich and Matthias Walbaum based in Augsburg.

This type of precious cabinets were not only prized by the German Courts, but also across Europe. Often made of costly exotic materials, such as ebony, tortoiseshell and ivory, and sometimes containing a collection of treasures, they were admired and cherished, especially in a collector’s cabinet of curiosities. In addition, their rich surfaces underlined the wealth, power and status of their owner.

Comparable cabinets by Baumgartner and his workshop are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (acc. no. 03.18) and at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London (acc. no. W.60-1923). Examples of Walbaum extravagant works can be seen in the British Museum (inv. no. WB.218) and the Grünes Gewölbe, Dresden (inv. no. I 38), although his most important work, is the exterior of the famous Pommersche Kunstschrank, a sumptuous art cabinet designed by Hainhofer for the Duke Philipp of Pomerania, which was mostly destroyed during World War II.

Sotheby's. Royal & Noble. London, 7 January 2021