Facade Cabinet Fassadenschrank Cupboard Wardrobe Renaissance German Walnut Elm



An Exceptional, Museum Quality, Mannerist, German, Façade Cabinet or Fassadenschrank in three sections The ultimate status symbol and feat of mannerist cabinetmaking, this Fassadenschrank incorporates layers of inlay of different woods prized for their colour and beautifully figured grains to simulate different materials used within a mannerist architectural façade creating a striking, visual display, inviting conversation, curiosity and wonder. The success lies in the virtuoso of the cabinet maker in balancing proportions, combining carving with layers and different shapes of inlaid and banded, intricate ornament, selecting of woods of different colours with finely, figured graining to create a jewel-like, statement piece which, when new, would have been very bright and the contrast between the woods particularly the ebony and fruitwood would have been dramatic and dazzling. It is very unusual to find a piece from this period retaining the original metalware which is of characteristically high quality beautifully chased. This cabinet is too elaborate to be a church piece. It would have been in a substantial household, most likely used by the owner, its religious iconography suggesting that it was placed in a private family room possibly for storing devotional objects as well as clothing which the shelf holes and shelves indicate and was customary. It incorporates a large amount of versatile storage space and is sturdy and usable. The deep, moulded, oak cornice has with a generous, walnut veneered frieze below incorporating striking, geometric inlay. The central and end panels with ash with ebonised and fruitwood banding within an ebonised oak frame with two large panels interposed each with a burr walnut hexagon with ebonised and fruitwood banding and long panels of finely, figured elm with ebonised and fruitwood banding either side. The sides veneered with walnut. The cupboard section with deep, oak moulding above a pair of large, walnut veneered and crossbanded doors incorporating many intricate inlays and carved ornamentation simulating niches or windows with a mannerist facade. Each door is surmounted with a central pediment, above an ebony pillar containing a circular fruitwood panel, one inlaid with the cypher 'HIS' and the other 'MRIA' with large, oak, scrollwork oak aedicula either side. IHS' a monogram of the first three letters of Jesus in Greek (ΙΗΣΟΥΣ) is inlaid on the left door roundel. 'MRIA' probably a monogram of Mara Regina Angelorum, meaning Mary Queen of Angels', is inlaid in the left door roundel. The large oak pediment underneath has a rectangular ebonised frieze containing a central, large, shaped fruitwood panel with two geometric burr walnut panels either side, all banded with elm. A large, oak frame below simulating the window or niche surround. The Mannerist oak frame incorporating walnut inlay and surmounted with a central, carved oak corbel, and a large acanthus leaf corbel on each side above gadrooned pilasters terminating in blocks with fruitwood inlay and ebonised banding, either side of a large, finely figured elm panel with double scrolls below. The illusion of a recessed niche or window within is created with the ingenious use of layers of inlay and oak mouldings. Two small elm panels with ebonised and fruitwood banding sit above an arch of three layers of walnut, elm and oak crossbanding which is supported by oak capitals above pilasters continuing the three layers of crossbanding framing the large oval finely, figured, single section, elm panel. Sophisticated burr walnut, ebonised, fruitwood and elm inlaid, banded, panels project from the carved oak frame pilasters creating the illusion of depth and an architectural symphony. The right door faced with an oak gadrooned carved section. Each door retains the original chased, fretted brass escutcheon, and brass flowerhead external hinges, one end of the bottom right hinge missing which does not affect the mechanism.

The front ends each with a long, oak, moulded and carved capital and fluted pilaster with elm and fruitwood inlay terminating in inverted double scrolls suggestive of ionic capitals. The continuation of burr walnut, fruitwood and oak geometric decoration projecting as if from behind creates depth and the impression of architectural detailing.

Opening with the original key to reveal the pine carcass and original, finely, chased steel lock and pierced, heart shaped hinges terminating in fleur-de-lys retaining the original flowerhead bolts at the heading. The interior is lined with the original, crimson, printed damask-effect, paper and fitted with adjustable shelf holes and three painted shelves which are probably early-20th century.

The oak sides have two large walnut panels each with ebonised and fruitwood banding. Retaining the original detachable, chased, iron handles. The oak base is fitted with two short, pine-lined drawers each with a large, central fruitwood panel with elm banding with a small, burr walnut panel with oak and fruitwood banding either side. The brass flowerhead handles are original, the brass escutcheons and steel locks are 19th century replacements. The oak sides with two walnut panels with ebonised and fruitwood banding.

Standing on later, probably 19th century, front bun and shaped back feet. Provenance : Private Collection Height 213cm,. 84 inches Length cornice 167.50cm. 66 inches, mid section 148.50cm., 58 1/2 inches, bottom waist 156cm., 61 1/2 inches Depth 64cm., 25 1/4 inches RELATED : -A rare, late-16th century, Cologne, inlaid shrank or cupboard with marblewood panels Residenz-Museum, Munich -Cabinet (Fassadenschrank), German, Nuremberg, Medium: Pine, oak, walnut; Hungarian ash, birch, various fruitwoods, walnut, palisander, other woods, partly stained (marquetry veneer); wrought iron, MET Museum, New York, Accession Number: 05.22.2 -Schrank Rothenburg Museum IN 14/297 LITERATURE Literatur: Deutsche Möbel Band II, Hermann Schmitz: Deutsche Möbel des Barock und Rokoko mit 600 Abbildungen, Stadtbibliothek Ulm 28 944 Heinrich Kreisel: Die Kunst des deutschen Möbels, 2 Bde, Stadtbibliothek Ulm 60 618 Adolf Häberle: Der Ulmer Schrank 1925 aus Belvedere S. 44-48, Stadtbibliothek Ulm 47 560 Detailed images available on request.

All prices exclude custom clearance fees which, where appropriate, will be charged directly to the client by your receiving courier, importer or government.
Height 213 cm / 84"
Width 156 cm / 61 "
Depth 64 cm / 25 "

17th Century


circa 1600





Collectors / Designers



Renaissance (Of the period)