A French 17th century ebony, ebonised, giltwood, marquetry and ivory inlaid cabinet Paris, circa 1645
Lot 19Y
A French 17th century ivory, bone and pewter inlaid ebony, ebonised, fruitwood, giltwood and marquetry cabinet Paris, circa 1645
Sold for £91,250 (US$ 151,435) inc. premium
Lot Details
A French 17th century ivory, bone and pewter inlaid ebony, ebonised, fruitwood, giltwood and marquetry cabinet
Paris, circa 1645
the balustrade gallery top above a frieze with two drawers depicting putti and satyrs dancing and playing music, above two panelled doors carved with reserves depicting the history of Psyche and profane scenes, the reverse panels inlaid with pewter depicting scrolling foliage and flowers, the interior fitted with an architectural perspective centred by a niche with painted trompe l'oeil landscape and a scene with Venus on a chariot, surmounted by two drawers with baluster gallery, above small drawers and mirrored panels hiding further small drawers, flanked to the sides by turned columns and inlaid female figures, above a parquet and geometrical pattern floor, surrounded by sixteen drawers, the stand with three frieze drawers carved with Bacchanalian scenes, on twelve foliate Salomonic column supports, joined by a later replaced under-tier and bulbous feet, the back with the Rijksmuseum inventory paper label inscribed Rijksmuseum - Amsterdam/ Inventarisnummer: Br.464/ Voorwerp: Ebbenh. Kabinet XVIIe/ Bruikleen van: Mevr. Th. Gerth-V. Heukelom te Wapenveldt, 187cm wide, 67cm deep, 202cm high (73.5" wide, 26" deep, 79.5" high).


  • Provenance

    - Collection of Willem Frederik van Heukelom (1858-1937)
    (Possibly in the family's possession for several generations)
    Museumplein, 19
    - Lent to the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (1948-1954)
    - By descent to the present owner.

    Attribution and related examples

    The fine and elaborate relief-carved decoration to the panels, the overall architectural décor and the pewter inlaid foliate decoration leans towards a Parisian maker.

    At one time such finely decorated cabinet, as the 'Endymion cabinet' in the Victoria & Albert Museum were ascribed to the cabinet-maker Jean Macé of Blois (1702-1762), but it has not been possible to prove this attribution. It has also been suggested that the Royal cabinet-maker Pierre Gole, who worked for the workshop of Adriaan Garbrand, may have been at the source of such exceptionally-crafted pieces.

    This type of cabinet was in fashion in France from about 1640 to 1660. The so-called "ébénistes", referring to the ebony veneering particularly in fashion at the time, originally came from the Netherlands or from Germany and introduced this type of cabinet to the Parisian workshops. Influenced by the cabinets traditionally made in their countries of origin, they developped a new type of "Parisian" cabinet with very richely carved narrative scenes and architectural decor.
    These cabinets were used to house collections of precious objects and natural rarities, such as unusual shells, but they were also admired as luxury objects in their own right.

    Apart from the 'Endymion cabinet' in the Victoria & Albert Museum, probably the closest in style to the present lot, another cabinet of this type is in the Château de Fontainebleau and other related examples, more profusely decorated, include notably a cabinet in the Musée Rolin in Autun, Burgundy, one in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, one in Windsor Castle and one in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

    Th.H. Lunsingh Scheurleer, Pierre Gole, ébéniste de Louis XIV, Dijon, 2005.
    D. Alcouffe, "Dal Rinascimiento al Luigi XIV" in Il mobile francese dal Rinascimiento al Luigi XV, Milan 1981.


    The panels on the present cabinet depict different scenes relating the history of Psyche.
    The central circular panels to the doors represent the Council of the Gods (left) and the wedding banquet of Cupid and Psyche (right), both executed in the Mannerist manner, reminiscent of the School of Fontainebleau.
    The reserved corners to each panel depict: Venus and Psyche/ Venus in a gold chariot (top left), Psyche returning from the Styx/ Cupid and the Graces (bottom left), Venus with Cérès and Juno/ Mercury (top right), Venus and Cupid/ Mercury and Psyche (bottom right).
    These scenes are directly taken from the celebrated Loggia of Psyche by Raffaello in the Villa Farnesina, Roma. They correspond to the Spandrels, painted by Raffaello's collaborators and made famous at the time by engraved illustrations.
    The smaller rectangular panels beetween the corners are taken from 'the histoire profane' imagery.

    The property of W.F van Heukelom then lent to the Rijksmuseum

    The van Heukelom family is listed in the Nederland Patriciaat from the 16th century. Originating from Germany, one branch of the family moved to Leiden until Frans van Heukelom (1738-1787) established himself in Amsterdam as a merchant. His grandson Hendrik Pieter van Heukelom (1816-1878) was an Inpector to the Netherland's state and married a French lady, Charlotte Maria Planteau. Both their portraits were commissionned to the painter Jan Adam Kruseman (1804-1862) and feature in the artist's catalogue raisonné.
    Their son, Willem Frederik van Heukelom, was very successful in the trade with the then Dutch East Indies. He was seen as a major collector and built an extensive collection of Chinese porcelain, the most valuable collection in The Netherlands at the time. He commissioned the construction of his mansion on Museumplein where his collection had to be displayed. He had architect Johan Adam Pool (1872-1948) to design the interior of his house which was lavishly furnished with Chippendale style furniture. The house is now the Consulate General of the USA in Amsterdam.

    It is certain that the present lot formed part of W.F van Heukelom's collection but unknown if he had inherited it or acquired it himself.

    After his death in 1937, the cabinet was inherited by his youngest daughter, Thérèse Van Heukelom. From 1948 to 1954 she moved to Indonesia and lent the cabinet to the Rijksmuseum during this period. The family has kept the correspondance with the Museum, including letters from the eminent curator and furniture historian Th.H. Lunsingh Scheurleer, which suggests that the cabinet was on view before the acquisition by the Museum of the magnificent ebony cabinet attributed to Pierre Gole that can still be seen in the furniture gallery today.

    The present cabinet still bears on its back an inventory label from the Rijksmuseum with the number Br 464.

    We would like to thank the family for making available to us the archives relative to this piece. We are also grateful to Dr. J.D. van Dam, Senior curator Ceramics & Glass at the Rijksmuseum for researching the Museum's archives.

Saleroom notices

  • As mentioned in the condition report, the perspective interior was originally enclosed by doors.
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  1. Fine Furniture (UK)
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