Width: 38 ½” 98cm
Depth: 20” 51cm
An exceptionally rare cabinet-on-stand, attributed to Ince & Mayhew and designed to display a group of Chinese soapstone-mounted panels, undoubtedly commissioned to house a collection of other treasured objects. It is one of a small group of European cabinets incorporating soapstone-mounted panels. No others, however, can be directly compared with this one.
Of refined rectilinear form, the cabinet is mounted on a pair of folding doors with twelve painted soapstone-decorated panels, perhaps of nuanmu wood, framed by contrasting veneers and mouldings of yew, sycamore and a variety of exotic woods, and surmounted by a shallow frieze of simulated fluting and a minimal moulded cornice. It is supported on a stand with frieze and slightly tapered legs, likewise veneered with simulated fluting, with Chinoiserie fretwork corner brackets and simple moulded feet. The cabinet-sides and the backs of the doors are each ornamented with six veneered and moulded panels of corresponding size to the soapstone panels on the façade. The doors enclose eighteen drawers (six graduated rows of one long and two short drawers each) with veneers, bandings and mouldings of contrasting woods. The principal carcase woods are oak and deal, with mahogany for the cabinet top.
The Astley Family, possibly Sir Edward Astley, 4th Baronet (1729-1814) Melton Constable.
Detailed research papers on the cabinet and its history by Lucy Wood and Anne Marie Bannister are available on request.