Description & Technical information

A sandalwood bureau-cabinet, veneered in ivory and engraved in black lac. The bureau cabinet is in two parts: a bureau with hinged door and a cabinet with four vertical drawers with two doors on either side of the drawers. The bureau cabinet is decorated throughout with European-style architectural buildings, trees and floral scroll borders. Architectural and floral elements engraved meticulously onto veneered ivory with black lac characterise the highly-prized Vizagapatam furniture made for export and at times gifted to European royalty during the 18th century (Jaffer, p. 202). The fascinating architectural features seen on 18th century Vizagapatam furniture were direct copies from English and Dutch engravings. A similar Vizagapatam ivory bureau-cabinet is in The Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, USA, Accession Number PEM E82996.A-C, circa 1780-90, and another in The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, which belonged to J.W. Janssens, the last Dutch Governor of the Cape Colony, circa 1780-90 (Jaffer, fig. 93, p. 202). A mid-18th century Vizagapatam bureau-cabinet without any architectural or landscape decoration, is in The Royal Collection Trust, bought by George III for Queen Charlotte in 1781 and is currently housed in The Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England. Queen Charlotte took great pleasure in Vizagapatam ivory furniture and continued to collect Anglo-Indian pieces for her ‘Indian Room’ at Frogmore House in Windsor.

Date:  18th century
Period:  1600-1750, 1750-1850, 18th century
Origin:  India, Vizagapatam
Medium: Sandalwood, Ivory, Black lac
Dimensions: 80 x 62 x 28 cm (31¹/₂ x 24³/₈ x 11 inches)
Literature: Jaffer, Furniture from British India and Ceylon: A catalogue of the collections in The Victoria and Albert Museum and The Peabody Essex Museum, Timeless Books, New Delhi, 2001.

Categories: Oriental and Asian Art