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A Pair of Anglo-Chinese Padouk Secretaire Cabinets
China, circa 1750

The survival of this pair of Anglo-Chinese secretaire cabinets from the 18th century is very unusual as only a few Anglo-Chinese furniture pieces made in Canton for British patrons survive today. Each of these pieces reflect a form inspired by an English prototype, but constructed in an entirely Chinese fashion. The presence of a pair of cabinets is particularly unusual.

These cabinets reflect the rare combination of English design with Chinese construction methods executed in locally sourced timbers. The overall form of these secretaire cabinets bear similarity to English designs as seen in publications such as Thomas Chippendale’s The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director (3rd ed., 1763, pls. XVII and CXXIX). However, the cabinets differ in their construction, particularly in the use of the solid timber rather than veneers.

The timber itself, padouk, is a wood native to Asia. The handles and escutcheons are made of paktong, which is an alloy composed of copper, nickel, and zinc, which was a uniquely Chinese product until the 19th century.

Height 188.00cm (74.02 inches)
Width 108.00cm (42.52 inches)
Depth 55.00cm (21.65 inches)

Reference - AD.80