Nagasaki, circa 1820
This secrétaire was produced for the Dutch East India Company (VOC) based on the island of Deshima, Nagasaki, Japan. Owing to the Napoleonic wars, Dutch trade with Japan was virtually non-existant between 1796 and 1816. What little trade that did take place often was conducted through neutral parties. Evidence for this is provided by a dressing cabinet of very similar form and decoration in the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, collected in Nagasaki in 1801 by Samuel Gardner Derby, the captain of the Margaret (see, O. Impey, Japanese Export Lacquer 1580-1850, Amsterdam 2005, p. 324, fig. 631).
A pair of similar secrétaires one of which is in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, the other in the Maritime Museum Prins Hendrik, Rotterdam, depicting Dutch-English battle scenes and signed by the lacquer maker Sasaya is also thought to have been made shortly after the resumption of trade after 1816 (see O. Impey, op. cit. p. 58).
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