About this artwork
Herter Brothers, one of New York’s foremost decorating firms during the 1870s and early 1880s, followed the lead of English designers intent on reforming an industry that produced poorly conceived and constructed work by advocating designs that were both beautiful and functional. Brothers Gustave and Christian Herter preferred bold, rectilinear shapes, which they often enlivened, as in this case, with exquisite surface decoration inspired by Japanese art, evidence of the Japanism that was prevalent throughout the West at this time. Here the painted roundels featuring flowers and insects at top left and right of the cabinet emulate Japanese lacquer, while the floral inlay across the facade is reminiscent of patterns found in Japanese screen paintings and textiles. Japanese family crests inspired the bands of inlay across the tops of the doors and above the side compartments, and Japanesque plum blossoms were carved in the arched spandrels on either side of the facade. Nevertheless, the overall form of the cabinet is Western, and the piece also includes such non-Japanesque elements as Egyptian-Revival paw feet. Aesthetic Movement designers such as Herter Brothers readily combined such eclectic motifs as long as they achieved a sense of visual harmony.
- Herter Brothers
- New York City
- c. 1878–1880
- Rosewood with ebonized cherry, maple, walnut, satinwood, marquetry of various woods, brass, gilding, and paint
- Impressed twice on back boards: "HERTER BRO'S"; written in script in pencil on top boards: " N 238 Store"
- 134.6 × 180.3 × 40.6 cm (53 × 71 × 16 in.)
- Purchased with funds provided by the Antiquarian Society through the Capital Campaign