Eye On Design: “Japanned” Bureau Cabinet Circa 1720

Japanned Cabinet
All Photos By Gail

This spectacular bureau cabinet reflects the European fascination with Japanese and Chinese luxury goods in the early eighteenth century.The bright red surfaced imitated Asian lacquer, which was made from materials not available in Europe.

Cabinet Top Detail

The motifs evoke the people and sights of the Far East, but they reflect the limited knowledge and stereotyped views that Europeans held of these distant countries. at the time the cabinet was made, this technique of using imitation lacquer was called “Japanning.” The original owner may have displayed small Asian porcelains in the upper niches of the cabinet.

Japanned Cabinet Detail 1

Japanned Cabinet Detail 2

Japanned Cabinet
Photographed in the Clark Institute in Williamstown, MA

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