An Exceptional Augsburg 17th century silver-gilt mounted ebony Table Cabinet with Florentine pietre dure plaques from the Grand Ducal workshops by Elias Boscher, circa 1660
Lot 20
An Exceptional Augsburg 17th century silver-gilt mounted ebony Table Cabinet with Florentine pietre dure plaques from the Grand Ducal workshops
by Elias Boscher, circa 1660
Sold for £482,500 (US$ 644,626) inc. premium

Lot Details
An Exceptional Augsburg 17th century silver-gilt mounted ebony Table Cabinet with Florentine pietre dure plaques from the Grand Ducal workshops by Elias Boscher, circa 1660 An Exceptional Augsburg 17th century silver-gilt mounted ebony Table Cabinet with Florentine pietre dure plaques from the Grand Ducal workshops by Elias Boscher, circa 1660 An Exceptional Augsburg 17th century silver-gilt mounted ebony Table Cabinet with Florentine pietre dure plaques from the Grand Ducal workshops by Elias Boscher, circa 1660 An Exceptional Augsburg 17th century silver-gilt mounted ebony Table Cabinet with Florentine pietre dure plaques from the Grand Ducal workshops by Elias Boscher, circa 1660 An Exceptional Augsburg 17th century silver-gilt mounted ebony Table Cabinet with Florentine pietre dure plaques from the Grand Ducal workshops by Elias Boscher, circa 1660 An Exceptional Augsburg 17th century silver-gilt mounted ebony Table Cabinet with Florentine pietre dure plaques from the Grand Ducal workshops by Elias Boscher, circa 1660 An Exceptional Augsburg 17th century silver-gilt mounted ebony Table Cabinet with Florentine pietre dure plaques from the Grand Ducal workshops by Elias Boscher, circa 1660 An Exceptional Augsburg 17th century silver-gilt mounted ebony Table Cabinet with Florentine pietre dure plaques from the Grand Ducal workshops by Elias Boscher, circa 1660 An Exceptional Augsburg 17th century silver-gilt mounted ebony Table Cabinet with Florentine pietre dure plaques from the Grand Ducal workshops by Elias Boscher, circa 1660 An Exceptional Augsburg 17th century silver-gilt mounted ebony Table Cabinet with Florentine pietre dure plaques from the Grand Ducal workshops by Elias Boscher, circa 1660 An Exceptional Augsburg 17th century silver-gilt mounted ebony Table Cabinet with Florentine pietre dure plaques from the Grand Ducal workshops by Elias Boscher, circa 1660 An Exceptional Augsburg 17th century silver-gilt mounted ebony Table Cabinet with Florentine pietre dure plaques from the Grand Ducal workshops by Elias Boscher, circa 1660 An Exceptional Augsburg 17th century silver-gilt mounted ebony Table Cabinet with Florentine pietre dure plaques from the Grand Ducal workshops by Elias Boscher, circa 1660 An Exceptional Augsburg 17th century silver-gilt mounted ebony Table Cabinet with Florentine pietre dure plaques from the Grand Ducal workshops by Elias Boscher, circa 1660 An Exceptional Augsburg 17th century silver-gilt mounted ebony Table Cabinet with Florentine pietre dure plaques from the Grand Ducal workshops by Elias Boscher, circa 1660 An Exceptional Augsburg 17th century silver-gilt mounted ebony Table Cabinet with Florentine pietre dure plaques from the Grand Ducal workshops by Elias Boscher, circa 1660 An Exceptional Augsburg 17th century silver-gilt mounted ebony Table Cabinet with Florentine pietre dure plaques from the Grand Ducal workshops by Elias Boscher, circa 1660
An Exceptional Augsburg 17th century silver-gilt mounted ebony Table Cabinet with Florentine pietre dure plaques from the Grand Ducal workshops
by Elias Boscher, circa 1660
of architectural form, the stepped superstructure fitted with three frieze drawers above a central cupboard door, architectural pediment and inset with a panel depicting a chaffinch on a fruiting bough, flanked by columns of Smaragdite Gabbro with Corinthian capitals flanked by two deep drawers, inset with panels depicting parrots within fruiting boughs, with three further fitted drawers below, the large central cupboard door inset with a panel of a lapis lazuli flower filled urn issuing stems including a carnation, anemone, daffodil and lilies and enclosing an architectural interior, flanked by further Smaragdite Gabbro Ionic columns and three drawers to each side inset with further symmetrical floral panels including tulips, roses, carnations, lilies and bluebells, on shaped bracket feet, each side inset with large central panels of parrots on fruiting boughs, with four further floral panels above and below, the reverse veneered in kingwood, amaranth and stained walnut in geometric stellar designs. The cabinet containing a complex series of fourty-four secret drawers and compartments to the interior. The cabinet is signed in pencil on the underside 'Elias Boscher' and 'gemacht'. The central cabochon mount stamped with the Augsburg town mark and the silversmiths mark of Johann Spitzmacher (active 1655-1678). The front bears the ebony stamp "EBEN" with the pinecone of Augsburg. 84cm wide, 40cm deep, 85cm high (33in wide, 15 1/2in deep, 33in high).

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Ballyfin House, Co. Laois, before 1841; Almost certainly purchased by Sir Charles Henry Coote, 9th Baronet(1792-1864). Described in the inventory of Ballyfin House by Williams and Gibton dated January 1841.
    Sir Charles Henry Coote, 10th Baronet (1815 - 1895);
    The Rev. Sir Algernon Coote, 11th Baronet (1817-1899);
    Sir Algernon Charles Plumptre Coote, 12th Baronet (1847 - 1920); last
    member of the family to live at Ballyfin;
    Thence by family descent until sold to the present owner by Bonhams
    in 2006.

    The pietre dure panels

    This type of cabinet, with its predominant use of ebony and pietre
    dure panels, originated in Florence from where these panels would
    have been imported. They where produced in the Grand Ducal workshop. The "Galleria dei Lavori" was founded in 1588 by the Grand Duke Ferdinand I de' Medici.
    It is likely that the marble pillars used in the cabinet were also produced in Florence. This type of cabinet, using Florentine pietra-dura panels was relatively well known in Augsburg due to its close proximity and good trade connections with Italy.
    The art dealer Philip Hainhofer (1578-1647), for example, studied in Italy during his youth where he made some powerful connections with prosperous families.
    Hainhofer's connection with the "Galleria dei Lavori" may well have continued
    via his brother, who lived in Florence, and is known to have supplied
    him with the Pietre Dure panels for the commission in the Gustavus
    Adolphus Kabinettschranke given to the city of Augsburg in 1632.

    The rising prices of precious metals over the course of the Thirty Years
    War (1618-1648) and the falling demand amongst the fashionable
    elite for silver ornamentation drove Hainhofer to adopt the use of semi
    precious stones in his cabinet work. This change occurred around
    1620, reaching a zenith in 1623-24, when metals were particularly
    difficult to obtain. This change in decoration from silver to stone,
    notably in reference to the 'Stipo Tedesco' is validated by Hainhofer in
    1626, when he wrote:
    'I have not used any silver decoration on this as it oxidises, needs
    constant cleaning and will in time look unsightly...the silver will
    become unattractive and, as you yourself – the elected Prince of
    Bavaria & Cologne have told me, external embellishments in silver are
    no longer perceived as suitable for daily use by esteemed Potentates,
    the lovers and scholars of high art. Therefore everything I now make
    will be embellished with sculptural works in bas-relief and with pretty
    stones (that can easily be cleansed with a soft brush). The two pieces
    I have sent you have nowhere for the dust to set; they can easily be
    brushed clean and the handles may be easily cleansed with a woollen
    wad. These works will long be unchanging and clean, as long as they
    are not destroyed"

    The cabinet work

    The present cabinet dates from circa 1660-70, at which time cabinets
    were already being made without hinged doors and were no longer
    decorated elaborately in the round. However, the back is decorated
    with a complex geometric pattern of exotic woods with pewter
    stringing, similar to the decoration of the internal compartments. It
    is clear therefore that this example was not designed exclusively to
    be viewed standing against a wall. It can be viewed as a typologically
    transitional piece – neither decorated fully in the round, nor exclusively
    to be set against a wall.

    The interior of the cabinet is decorated with parquetry, the drawers
    behind the central door and that behind the upper door are removable.
    When removed, the insides of both compartments are inlaid. A great
    variety of woods have been used: expensive exotic woods such
    as amaranth and ebony, but also local woods such as ash, walnut
    and maple together with pewter stringing. The interior can be seen
    as reminiscent of the contents of the Kunstkammer - mirroring the
    collections of Naturalia on display within. The removable compartment
    of the central section contains two small drawers; the fronts are each
    decorated with panels of Jasper framed by cartouches of carved
    ebony. Both compartments contain a number of secret drawers,
    which are mostly situated at the back of the compartments or their
    respective chambers and are lined with 'Turkish' paper.
    The main drawers are lined with their original brown and white
    patterned silks, which are shot with gold thread.
    The tops of the drawers are veneered in amaranth to the front. The
    drawers also have further secret drawers, which can be drawn out
    from their back once a small catch has been released.

    The silver gilt mounts

    In addition to combination of exotic veneers and pietra dura panels,
    the Ballyfin cabinet is further embellished with decorative silver-gilt
    mounts. Although there has been a long established tradition of silver
    ornamentation associated with Augsburg cabinet-work, the trade in
    silver had been decimated in the course of the Thirty Years War and
    by the 1660s, silver ingots had become a scarce commodity. This
    provides a clear demonstration that despite this obstacle, no expense
    was spared in the instance of the Ballyfin cabinet.
    Little is known about the silversmith Johann Spitzmacher (active 1655-
    1678) whose mark appears alongside the Augsburg town mark on the
    central mount of the Ballyfin Cabinet. Another example of Spitzmacher's
    work is illustrated by the silver-gilt mounts for a Nautilusbecher, circa
    1670, now in the collection of the Nationalmuseum, Budapest.

    Elias Boscher

    Although little is recorded about the life of Elias Boscher it is known
    that he married Regina Fend in 1629 'both of them local and single' .
    The Cabinetmakers' guild required an apprenticeship of at least three
    years and a subsequent period as a journeyman of ten years to qualify
    as a master craftsman. In addition it would only grant permission for
    marriage after the Master's examination had been completed. It can
    therefore be assumed his date of birth was circa 1600 and that he
    became a master of the guild around1629.
    Further information can be gleaned from contemporary tax records.
    According to these records he paid tax from 1639 until circa 1674.
    Between 1667 and 1674 his wife Regina had taken over the workshop
    and therefore Elias' death must have occurred at some time between
    these years .
    Boscher appears regularly in the guild records. In 1664 he was noted
    as a signatory witness in a guild dispute with the Instrument-makers
    and on the 22nd June 1649 as signatory on a petition to the city council
    to prevent the carpenters' guilds' involvement in cabinetmakers' work
    . Boscher is also recorded on the 5th December 1662 as signatory on
    a petition from the masters to the city council to prevent a premature
    examination for a journeyman due to the 'overrun' profession of the
    guild and to uphold guild regulations . Other legal representations
    towards the end of his career include acting as a sworn master and
    witness in the case of the cabinetmaker Ulrich Baumgartner v. the
    merchant Jacob Haim between 1664 and 1665. The case related to a
    dispute over the costs of a complex furnishing project. In this context
    Boscher was newly sworn in on the 9th September 1664 as examining
    master and witnessed by the mayor Antoni Langenmantel.

    Related Cabinets

    The most important comparable cabinet is in the collection of the
    Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. This example is veneered in ivory but
    predominantly decorated with pietra dura panels; in addition to these
    it also features small panels of Lapis Lazuli, around the pietra dura,
    which are fixed to the carcass with mounts.
    In contrast to the present cabinet, the ivory example has a secondary plinth below the central door which is exclusively decorated with lapis lazuli and gilt mounts.
    The sides of the Ballyfin Cabinet are decorated more sumptuously
    than its ivory counterpart and have an additional pair of columns to the
    main body and the superstructure. The capitals of the columns to the
    front of the ebony cabinet are Ionic to the main section and Corinthian
    to the superstructure, whereas those of the ivory cabinet are all of the
    Corinthian order. The two cabinets differ further in the ornamentation
    of their mounts, in the motifs on the pietra dura panels, and in smaller
    details of their architectural arrangement.

    The mounts on the ivory cabinet in the Rijksmuseum also bear the
    Spitzmacher mark and Augsburg town mark.
    The same fabrics being used for the lining of some of the drawers
    also indicates the distinct possibility that these two cabinets were
    produced in the same workshop.
    Moreover both cabinets are inlaid with similar complex geometric patterns to the reverse.

    A further cabinet, in the Museo Poldi Pezzoli in Milan, is similar in its
    external form to both the previously mentioned cabinets. The Museo
    Poldi Pezzoli cabinet features possibly original (pietra dura?) panels
    incorporated in its marquetry. The columns on this cabinet are of the
    Doric order. Together the three cabinets therefore display the full
    range of the orders of architecture.

    It is documented that many workshops made several cabinets
    concurrently. For example, the cabinet-maker Andreas Miller and the
    goldsmith Maystetter made Kabinettschranks without Kuntstkammer
    objects as contents, the cost of such a cabinet being between 100
    and 240 Reichstaler . As suggested by the cabinets surveyed here, it
    is possible that the workshop of Elias Boscher also produced several
    similar pieces simultaneously.

    Another cabinet of related overall form decorated with pietra dura
    panels, is in the collection of the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin.
    However the Berlin cabinet has the least close similarities to the
    Ballyfin example.

    A slightly later cabinet with pietra dura panels is in the Weimar
    Schlossmuseum. This was supplied with a stand and has similar
    inlaid decoration to the back. The cabinet is conceived in a more
    sophisticated manner with its segmentation and coupled columns
    to the centre. Besides its general configuration relating to the
    aforementioned cabinets, the carcass bears also the stamp of the city
    of Augsburg and the stamp for ebony.


    The Provenance: Ballyfin House

    The history of the Ballyfin estate dates back to the 17th century when
    it was granted to Patrick Crosbie as a reward for his services to Queen
    Elizabeth I. Crosbie built a castle on the lands but, being a supporter
    of Charles I, the property was confiscated by Cromwell. During the
    Restoration, the estate was granted to Periam Pole, son of William
    Pole of Shute in Devonshire. The Poles pulled down the castle and
    built a more modern house on the site. This, in turn, was destroyed by
    fire and a new building erected by Periam's son. In 1778 the property
    passed to William Pole who added extensively to the house. When
    William Pole died in 1781, the estate was inherited by his cousin
    William Wellesley-Pole, a brother of the Duke of Wellington. By 1813
    the Wellesley-Pole family due to financial reasons decided to sell the
    house.
    Shortly after this the house was bought by Sir Charles Coote, 9th
    and Premier Baronet of Ireland (1792-1864), who had just attained
    his majority. He saw Ballyfin house as the suitable focal point to a
    large land and estate, which would be appropriate for a figure of his
    importance.
    After acquiring Ballyfin, Sir Charles decided to change the long, plain
    house, which was barely fifty years old, into something altogether
    more grand and fashionable. He did not begin work immediately –
    in the meantime possibly embarking on a Grand Tour, or spending
    time in his London home in Connaught Place - but by 1820 he was
    ready to start on the project. His initial ideas were to create a palatial
    residence, which would reflect his status, extending to over 220 feet
    long. Accordingly he initially sought the services of an Irish architect
    named Dominic Madden, for unknown reasons, the project was
    completed the father and son team Sir Richard and William Morrison,
    who were the leading architects in the country with a virtual monopoly
    on Irish country houses at the beginning of the 19th century.
    When it was completed in 1826, the house was a 'tour de force' aptly
    described by McParland as one of the 'grandest of all Irish countryhouse
    interiors' . In remodelling Ballyfin, the Morrisons were obliged to
    retain the Library which was at the South West end of the house as it
    had already been built when they started work on the project. It was
    characterised by a large apsidal window fronted by a colonnade of
    giant Ionic columns and a top-lit rotunda next door.

    An Inventory of Ballyfin House taken in January 1841 by Williams and
    Gibton, lists the cabinet in the library:

    1 Ebony Cabinet, the Panels & doors of drawers done in Mosaic Work
    with Marble Corinthian & Ionic pillars, with , brass caps & leaves the
    whole richly ornamented in Ormolu
    .

    Another Inventory of the library taken in 1864 by Arthur Jones & Son
    of St Stephens Green, Dublin lists:

    Grand Florentino Gem cabinet. Ionic Columns. Bronze Shafts and
    ormolu Hinges, Doors and handles
    .

    An interesting watercolour of the room, painted in around 1855 by the
    son-in-law of Sir Charles Coote, the Marquis de Massingy de la Pierre
    is a wonderful illustration of 19th century opulence. In it we see two
    figures, the seated man in the armchair, who is almost certainly Sir
    Charles, 9th Bart, and the young girl sitting on the stool, probably his
    grand daughter, Caroline, (daughter of the artist). The picture shows
    these figures surrounded by a profusion of elegant furnishings including
    classical sculptures, mounted oriental porcelain, French furniture and
    elaborate light fittings. A further late 19th century photograph reveals
    more French and Italian furniture as well as the cabinet, which can just
    be seen behind the marble statue on the right hand side.

    A letter in the Coote archive points to a possible source for the Ballyfin
    Cabinet. It may have been supplied by the Dublin based Italian artist,
    Gaspare Gabrielli (b.1795, fl. 1805-30), who is recorded as having
    sent works of art including statues, pictures and china to Sir Charles
    Coote for Ballyfin. On 22nd November 1822, Gabrielli wrote a letter
    from Rome to Sir Charles Coote at Connaught Place, London, in
    which he refers to seven cases dispatched from the Italian port of
    Leghorn (Livorno), which included two statues by Tadolini and his own
    painting of the Roman Forum.
    It is feasible that the Ballyfin Cabinet was included amongst this
    shipment, since it is typical of the type of precious and exotic foreign
    object so desired by the Irish aristocracy at the time. It is also known
    that Lord Meath had ordered marbles, paintings and chimneypieces
    through Gabrielli between 1816-1817,17 indicating that by this time
    Gabrielli was well-established as an agent and dealer.

    The later history of Ballyfin House

    When Sir Charles Coote died in 1864, the house was inherited by his
    son, the 10th Baronet and then to his brother the Rev. Sir Algernon
    Coote, who, in turn left it to his son Sir Algernon Coote. In 1928
    the Ballyfin estate was purchased by the Irish Land Commission,
    whilst the house itself was acquired directly from the Coote family
    by the Patrician Order, an Irish teaching brotherhood who used the
    building as a boarding school, managing to preserve the historic part
    of the house by adding extensions to accommodate the necessary
    classrooms. However, the escalating cost of maintaining the property
    presented increasingly difficulties, and in 2002 Ballyfin was purchased
    by a new private owner.


    Augsburg in the 17th century

    '...the good goldsmiths and cabinetmakers of Augsburg have, as
    regards diligence and attention to detail, first place before all others
    in Germany...'

    From the 16th century onwards Augsburg was renowned as an
    important centre of trade as well as being known far beyond the
    borders of Germany for its production of significant works of art. In
    particular wares produced by its gold and silver makers and cabinetmakers
    were highly in demand. However, in contrast to the cabinetmaking
    trade, the history of goldsmithing in Augsburg, is relatively well
    documented. Therefore, the business practices of the latter are often
    treated as an insight as to how other trades operated. A measure of
    the goldsmiths' commercial success is indicated by the fact that in
    1615 there were 185 goldsmiths in Augsburg compared to only 137
    bakers.

    Art dealers such as Philip Hainhofer (1578-1647) laid the groundwork
    for the rise of Augsburg as a centre of export for exceptional works of
    art. In the first half of the 17th century he was predominantly employed
    by the Principality as an agent to market the arts and crafts of Augsburg
    throughout the world and in this role, he contributed significantly to
    the celebrated status which Augsburg had attained during the 17th
    century. In addition to marketing he was occasionally also involved in
    the design and manufacture of works of art.
    One of the keys to the reputation enjoyed by Augsburg as a centre
    for works of art was its close access to raw materials. Furthermore
    the rise in European trade with the Far East and Africa facilitated
    amongst other commodities the import of exotic woods. However
    the supply of luxury goods was notoriously volatile. An instance of
    this occurred during the 1620s when the prices of precious metals
    became prohibitively expensive. Another factor affecting supply arose
    in 1628 when Augsburg was stricken by the plague. This reduced the
    population by a third , including forty 'Ebony Masters' and regardless
    of great demand, very few cabinets were therefore made during these
    years. In 1636 a further epidemic struck the city, reducing the number
    of master Goldsmiths from 44 to 24. As a consequence the master
    Goldsmiths received a constant demand for commissions and could
    'behold themselves as gentlemen'. It is therefore reasonable to assume
    that the cabinet-makers found themselves in a similar situation,
    Whereas during the Thirty Years War the trade in silver was dominated
    by large conglomerates such as the Fugger family of mercants (who
    lost their power at the end of the war), the imposition of new import
    restrictions resulted in most of the silver being imported via France .
    Similarly, ebony, which had previously been imported from Venice, was
    now traded through Amsterdam.
    It was during the 1660s, when Augsburg's guilds had been replenished
    with artisans and artists that the great demand for works of art was
    exploited to its fullest.

    The Augsburg Cabinetmakers' Guild

    Common practice dictated that the Augsburg guild of cabinet-makers
    regulated the relationships of its members and the conditions under
    which their trade was practiced. Augsburg had a surfeit of masters
    in the 1660s. Over seventy are recorded and they complained: 'that in
    the cabinet-making trade there exists far too many masters who exert
    such strong competition on each other that compared to earlier times
    income is not even half of what was commonplace ... their livelihood is
    noticeably withdrawn' and in another place: 'It is also known to many
    that 24 or 30 years ago and even 15 or 16 years ago the cabinetmakers'
    work was remunerated by more than double compared to
    current times' This is also caused countless applications by apprentice
    masters to undertake their masterwork early to be rejected. Elias
    Boscher himself acknowledged one of these rejection notices with his
    signature .
    During this period, when the guilds were 'overrun' by master craftsmen,
    the adherence to the rules regarding construction and the quality of
    masterpieces was more strictly observed.

    The use of ebony in Augsburg

    The second role of the guild was the regulation of the demarcation
    between related trades. Disputes about the allocation of borderline
    works to relevant guilds were frequent. One guild dispute between
    the Turners and the Cabinet-makers aimed to resolve which guild
    was to be responsible for the turning of ebony. This was settled in
    1588 in favour of the cabinet-makers and illustrates how ebony was in
    regular use in Augsburg, even at a time when marquetry and parquetry
    were the prevailing cabinet-making techniques. In documents relating
    to this dispute a reference is recorded 'that ebony is in itself very
    dear and such works may therefore not be destined for the common
    man (lit. 'Burgher') but are ordered and exported for Potentates and
    Gentlemen' .The use of ebony increased at the turn of the century
    and in turn also the number of cases in which stained pear-wood was
    passed-off as ebony. The guild, which was also held accountable for
    the supervision of the quality of its members work, felt it necessary to
    introduce a new regulation in 1625. This stated that cabinet-makers
    must have all their 'black wares' inspected by the guild examination
    masters and were duty bound to have the authenticity of their ebony
    validated by a stamp with the word 'EBEN' alongside the 'Pinecone
    of Augsburg'. These stamps are to be found on the present cabinet
    and the small cabinet in the Rijksmuseum but are not evident on all
    ebony furniture produced in Augsburg. This suggests that many of the
    masters did not view the regulation as mandatory.

    In addition to the regulation of craft infringements, the guild also
    maintained the selling interests of its members. In 1613 a merchant
    applied for the right to sell cabinet-makers' work, as several masters
    from various guilds had participated in the construction of the cabinets:
    'I hereby let it be known that for some twenty years I have been trading
    in cabinetry such as desks and other works of ebony which I then have
    decorated with silver and lined with fabric so that the pieces pass
    from the hand of the cabinet-makers to the locksmiths and drapers
    and then to myself. Everyone's involvement is without detriment to
    the others. It is therefore no longer the work of a cabinet-maker but
    the wares of a merchant which, more often than not is sold outside
    the city' This dispute was won by the cabinet-makers and therefore
    ensured that they were not forced to sell their works to the merchants
    below their realistic market value. This case shows clearly that, not
    only in the works designed by Hainhofer, several master craftsmen
    from a variety of guilds were involved in the creation of cabinets. This
    indicates that even more 'simple' pieces were joint efforts, where the
    cabinet-maker was not always responsible for the overall design or
    other aspects such as the fitting of locks and mounts or the lining of
    the interior. This supports the assumption that a managerial role was
    also occasionally undertaken by the merchants or art dealers.


    The 'Kunstkammer'

    Any appreciation of kunstkammer must be made in the context of the
    Baroque period. The precursor to the kunstkammer was what was
    known as a wunderkammern: a treasure chamber containing great
    stores of gold and worldly objects of great value. The kunstkammer
    attempted to mirror the Italian Studiolo collections and provided
    the environment to display the nobility's affluence, supremacy and
    knowledge, and within them the kabinettschranks would have been
    placed in a position of considerable prominence .
    The system of design behind one of the most celebrated Italian
    'Kunstkammer', namely the Tribuna in Florence, and also that of the
    Studiolo in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, mirrored the divine order
    of the world . The works of art and nature exhibited in the Tribuna
    were imbued with a magical as well as a material value as part of
    their situation within the theatrically arranged whole. Boetius de Boodt
    mentioned the revered precious stones that reflected divinity. These
    designs were the prototypes for those of the German Kunstkammer
    collections.

    The Kunstkammer was to be a reflection of the world, with all its bounty;
    the Naturalia, such as precious stones, metals, animals, antlers, fish,
    teeth, feathers, hides, skins and more; the Artificialia and Scientifica,
    the collection of all the art and artefacts of man; and finally the Exotica,
    the art and artefacts of foreign lands. As such, the Kunstkammer was
    a microcosm of the world for which the individual princely collector
    became the regulatory centre. The exhibits served to entertain and
    instruct and also encouraged learned and philosophical discussions.
    The Kunstkammer thus was a means to further princely contemplation
    and portrayal of the self. The cabinet as a piece of furniture was also
    imbued with he same dual function and meaning. It was a cupboard
    to store collections and in this became a microcosm within its doors.
    As a collectable object itself, it took its place within the Kunstkammer.
    The Ballyfin Cabinet is a rarity, as a signed, and therefore securely
    attributable Augsburg cabinet. It is a representation of the flourishing
    crafts of this city and displays the celebrated attributes of contemporary
    opulence key to Augsburg's reputation as a centre of luxury goods. The
    philosophical atmosphere of contemporary Augsburg is manifested in
    the Ballyfin Cabinet and its fitments, and these attributes make it not
    only an exceptional, but typically characteristic, creation of the period
    and the region.

    Literature:

    Alfter, Dieter, Die Geschichte des Augsburger Kabinettschranks. Augsburg 1986.
    Baarsen, Reinier, Duitse meubelen / German furniture. Amsterdam 1998.
    Baarsen, Reinier, 'Een Augsburgs pronkkabinet'. In: Bulletin
    van het Rijksmuseum Jaargang 48, 2000 / nummer 1, 2. pp.2
    – 17.
    Baarsen, Reinier, 17th century cabinets. Amsterdam 2000.
    Balboni Brizza, Maria Teresa: Stipi e cassoni. Le guide del
    museo Poldi Pezzoli. Milano 1995.
    Baumstark, Reinhold und Seling, Helmut (Hg.): Silber und
    Gold. Augsburger Goldschmiedekunst für die Höfe Europas. 2
    Bände. München 1994.
    Bothe Rolf und Ulferts, Gert – Dieter: Kunstsammlungen zu
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    With grateful thanks to Christine Cornet, Elizabeth Jamieson
    and David Smith for their assistance with this research.
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