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About the object

An exquisite marquetry, carved lacquer and gilt bronze mounted hanging cabinet designed by Mattias Gasparini and made by Joseph Canops for the Officio of King Carlos III in the Palacio Real, Madrid circa 1765.

Of tropical hardwoods, engraved brass inlay, carved lacquer and gilt-bronze. The serpentine central section with doors inlaid with single bird and floral motifs and flanked by two bans of brass-inlaid drawer mounted with finely chased gilt-bronze handles. Surrounding is a system of lozenge inlaid shelves with fretted marquetry foliated backs. Behind the central doors are further floral inlays and these doors when open act as a release for the central locking mechanism of the drawers.

Provenance: Made for the Gabinetes de Maderas de Indias, of King of Carlos III in the Palacio Real, Madrid.

Published: Inventarios Reales, Carlos III 1789-1790. Charles King of Spain and y L.F. Fernández-Miranda. Madrid: Patrimonio Nacional, 1988. 224.

The present hanging cabinet is one of only three designed by the artist and decorator to the King, Matteo Gasparini (d. 1770), and constructed by the court cabinet maker José Canops (d. 1814) circa 1765-70 for the apartments of King Carlos III in the Palacio Real , Madrid. A second example is part of the collection of the Brooklyn Museum, New York.

The quality and artistry of this cabinet is difficult to overstate. The combination of Gasparini’s extraordinary and singular rendering of the rococo, combined with the meticulous “engineered” quality of Canops cabinetmaking, ranks it as one of the most important manifestations of the oeuvre ever to be made in Europe, even on a par with the Michael Kimmel Dresden bureau cabinet formerly in Mentmore, now in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.