Secretary cabinet


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 512

Japanning, a fashionable European technique intended to imitate Asian lacquer, was very popular in England beginning in the last quarter of the seventeenth-century. Special manuals were published such as John Stalker and George Parker’s A Treatise of Japanning and Varnishing (London, 1688), which contained technical information on how to make lacquer-like varnishes as well as useful designs for the decoration of furniture. The vogue for japanning remained strong during the eighteenth century as is evidenced by the 1732 publication of The Method of Learning to Draw in Perspective…Likewise a New and Curious Method of Japanning…so as to imitate China: and to make black or gilt Japan-Ware as Beautiful and Light as any brought from the East-Indies. A large number of extant pieces of japanned furniture also underscore their one time popularity.

Secretary cabinet, Oak, pine, and walnut decorated in red, gold, and silver japanning; brass; mirror glass, British

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