Cabinet on stand

c. 1650–1675
Wood, tortoise shell, ivory, wood and ivory marquetry, mirror, and gilt metal
67 3/8 × 56 1/8 × 20 1/2 in. (1 m 71.13 cm × 142.56 cm × 52.07 cm) Cabinet: 30 5/8 × 55 1/8 × 19 1/2 in. (77.79 × 140.02 × 49.53 cm) Stand: 36 3/4 × 56 1/8 × 20 1/2 in. (93.35 × 142.56 × 52.07 cm) Key: 2 1/2 × 1/8 × 3/4 in. (6.35 × 0.32 × 1.91 cm)
Decorative Arts and Design
Wendy and Emery Reves Collection - Grand Salon, Level 3
Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection
Image courtesy Dallas Museum of Art

General Description

During the first half of the seventeenth century, the cabinet-on-stand became an important furniture form in Italy; it was soon imitated in both western and northern Europe. Not only were such cabinets useful for the storage of small personal articles and collectibles but they could be highly decorative. Italian examples were especially noteworthy because they were often covered with pietre dure (hard stone) marquetry. In this technique, hard stones selected for their color were shaped so that they could be assembled like a puzzle into decorative motifs and glued onto the surface of a piece of furniture. By the mid-seventeenth century, clients in northern Europe demanded furniture decorated in this fashion. While Italian furniture with pietre dure, as well as ready-made stone slabs, were imported, cabinetmakers in various parts of Europe created acceptable alternatives to the Italian prototypes.

This cabinet is a fine example of such work. It is close to Italian examples in its overall form, a case containing banks of drawers supported on an open frame. However, the surface is faced not with an inlaid stone veneer, but rather colorful marquetry composed of tortoiseshell, ivory, and various natural and dyed woods. Nevertheless, the nature of the wooden marquetry is quite close to_ pietre __dure_ examples, as it is composed of relatively large elements arranged in stiff patterns. Also linking this example closely to Italian prototypes are the motifs of flowers and birds arranged on alternating drawers, a formula that frequently appears on examples of Italian origin. This affinity to Italian prototypes suggests that the cabinet may have been made in the 1650s or 1660s, soon after the vogue for polychrome floral marquetry reached northern Europe.

Adapted from

  • Dallas Museum of Art. Decorative Arts Highlights from the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection. (Dallas, Texas: Dallas Museum of Art, 1995), 47.
  • "Cabinet on Stand (1985.R.573.A-C)," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection, ed. Bonnie Pitman (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art; New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012), 153.

Fun Facts

Emery Reves purchased this cabinet, along with another one in the collection, in 1967 as a birthday gift for his wife, Wendy Reves.