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A decorative and portable piece of furniture in the form of an angular box closed with a pair of small doors and containing eight drawers.
Furniture of that type, made of exotic materials, was not commonly used in Poland of the 17th century.

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A decorative and portable piece of furniture in the form of an angular box closed with a pair of small doors and containing eight drawers. It is covered with tortoise shell which is divided into irregular fields by ribbons of rosewood framed with ivory. The decoration also features an ornament of mother-of-pearl in the form of bunches of fruit, panoplies with eagles, birds catching insects, flowers, horns, acanthus leaves, and heads of knights in helmets. There are brass handles on the side walls, created of intertwined snakes.
The panoplies that can be seen outside the doors, topped with crowned eagles, suggest that this piece of furniture was connected with John III Sobieski and the victorious Battle of Vienna. Therefore, the cabinet was included in the exhibition in the Cloth Hall in 1883, dedicated to Sobieski's period, which was organised as part of the commemoration of the anniversary of the Victory at Vienna.
Furniture of that type, made of exotic materials, was not commonly used in Poland of the 17th century. Some mentions of cases or chests covered with tortoise shell or mother-of-pearl can be met only in descriptions of royal and aristocratic courts. The cabinet ornamentation resembles Dutch designs, used for furniture of that type made in workshops of Antwerp in the 17th century. This particularly applies to decorations created with a method of inlaying tortoise shell with mother-of-pearl, depicting motifs of flower and fruit, as well as birds catching insects. Rosewood ribbons framed with bone are also a characteristic feature of such furniture. As the block of the cabinet is rather plain, without architectural divisions, there are construction errors made by a craftsman unfamiliar with the exotic material, and the design of panoply drawings is rather schematic. All of the above suggests the cabinet was of Polish production, as it resembles the native travelling chests more than the complex cabinets constituting decorations of rooms of wonder popular at that time.

Elaborated by Stanisława Link-Lenczowska (Wawel Royal Castle), editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums, © all rights reserved

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