Lot 10
  • 10

A South German baroque pewter, brass and tortoiseshell Boulle marquetry cabinet on stand, Munich or Vienna, circa 1710

8,000 - 12,000 GBP
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  • Tortoiseshell, brass, pine, oak, pewter
  • 188cm. high, 122cm. wide, 61cm. deep; 6ft. 2in., 4ft., 2ft.
the domed superstructure of serpentine outline centred by a cupboard door and flanked on each side by an arrangement of four drawers, the lower section with eight further drawers, on square tapering legs joined by a stretcher, the central panelled door inlays altered


Sold Dorotheum, Vienna, Nachlass Christomanos Meran / Kunstgegenstände aus privatbesitz, 1913, lot 500; By repute, Luigi Moroni, Conte di Loreto;

Thence by descent to the current owner.


Related literature R. Eikelmann (ed.), Prunkmöbel am Müncher Hof, Munich, 2011;

G. Hojer, H. Ottomeyer (eds.), Die Möbel der Residenz München, Munich, 1996;

H. Kreisel, Die Kunst des deutschen Möbels, vol. II, Munich, 1973;

M. Riccardi-Cubitt, The Art of the Cabinet, London, 1992.


The marquetry with tarnishing to the brass and pewter, with lifting and losses overall. Further losses are noticeable on the veneer of all drawers. The tortoiseshell inlay on both sides is in distressed condition, with flaking and fading, especially on the left side. The central and right bottom drawers of the stand are missing their knob. The central door with lock missing and horizontal construction cracks; the interior formerly fitted with one shelf (not original). The stretcher also with overall losses to the tortoiseshell, which does however retain its distinctive red colour. Although in overall stable condition, with no loose pieces, this imposing cabinet is in need of professional attention. Moreover, the carcase timber having expanded due to exposure to humidity, some drawers - most notably those on the right-hand side, do not open easily, and might cause some of the original drawer knobs to come lose.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

In the first three decades of the 18th century, the so-called “Boulle” marquetry technique enjoyed particular fortune in the German-speaking world, most notably in Southern Germany, Munich and Vienna. This was a direct result of Bavaria's historical alliance to France, where Maximilian II Emanuel of Bavaria (1662-1726) had sought refuge during the War of the Spanish Succession from 1708 to 1715. Master cabinet-makers such as Ferdinand Plitzner, Johann Puchwiser, the Master CSB, Johann Heinrich Purckhart, Valentin Zindtner, and Hendrik van Soest - some of whom had studied in Paris - all excelled in this art, but did not restrict themselves to pure imitation; rather, they developed the technique that had been mastered by André-Charles Boulle (1642-1732), adapting it to a German taste distinguished by a marked preference for tortoiseshell with red and blue underlays, the contrast between pewter and brass, and elaborate, late-Baroque architectonic designs.

If the French favoured clock cases, commodes and armoires, the Germans excelled in making monumental Schreibschränke, or bureaux-cabinets, perhaps the greatest examples of which are the pair in première- and contre-partie by Puchwiser, circa 1704-1715, in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich, formerly at Schloss Schleißheim in the collection of the Royal House of Wittelsbach (inv. nos. R 3891 and R 3890). The decorative repertoire on these pieces, is often and sometimes faithfully, based upon engravings by or after Jean Bérain (1640-1711), sometimes mediated by the fantasy of German ornemanistes such as Paul Decker (1677-1713).

While the overall outline can be compared to the Munich pair, the marquetry on the present bureau - lacking any figurative element - relates it to a Schreibstisch in première partie in the Hofburg, Wien (ill. in R. Eikelmann, op. cit., p. 21), as well as to a pair of Schreibkommoden, or bureaux Mazarin, also by Puchwiser, in the Residenz Munich (inv. nos. BNM R 3363 and 3364, ill. in G. Hojer, H. Ottomeyer, op. cit., pp. 278-79, cat. 79). A nearly identical example of cabinet on stand with domed top and with faux-drawer marquetry on its central door, is illustrated in M. Riccardi-Cubitt, op. cit., 106, ill. 56 (fig. 1),  and was offered Sotheby's London, Important Continental Furniture, Tapestries and Clocks, 20-27 May 1988, lot 178.