AESTHETIC MOVEMENT MAHOGANY BONHEUR DU JOUR IN JAPANESE TASTE
Circa 1880s, with Hobbs & Co locks
Item # 001EJG28L
A fine blend of George III traditionalism with Japanesque ornament, this petite secretary desk cabinet is generally called a "bonheur du jour". A product of the Aesthetic Movement, the preference for the exotic and unique is seen most prominently in the bisque panels in the upper and lower sections. These display a Japanese man carrying a sleeping child in traditional garb running through a stark and barren landscape, the image framed by a separately cast bisque panel with stylized relief ornamentation of flowers, rabbits and a variety of birds.
The top of the cabinet is surrounded by a pierced gallery over a single blind center door flanked by a pair of glazed display sections with heavy bevelled leaded glass, opening to give access to the shelved interior. Three small drawers are situated under this, all beautifully dovetailed with crisp hand-cut pins and "Hobbs & Co" locks. The upper section is easily lifted away from the lower "table" section, these both being entirely self-contained units. It is situated on the lower section with dowels set in corresponding holes.
The top-grain gilt-tooled leather writing surface of the lower section is rather diminutive and likely intended more as a decorative element than to actually be used for writing letters, but the effect is quite attractive. A single broad drawer is situated beneath this, withdrawing on custom brass pulls that resemble exotic faces to give access to the comfortable storage compartment. Beautifully reeded legs are made firm and sturdy with a complex arrangement of angled returns and the stylized stretchers.
Rich in material and crisp in execution, the small size of this cabinet makes it particularly useful in the interior. Not overwhelming, but also visually impactful, this is a very interesting acquisition both for practical applications as well as the aesthetic.
Measurements: 51 1/8" H x 19 1/8" D x 29 1/8" W
One bail pull missing (left small drawer). Surface is old and likely original with discoloration and some fading. Bisque panels with cracks and large chip losses. No key. Tarnished brass elements. Minor surface blemishes, old cracks and use indicators as expected.