A VERY RARE BREAKFRONT CABINET RETAINING ITS ORIGINAL ETRUSCAN STYLE PAINTED DECORATION

June 15 2009, 11:10am

English. Circa 1785. This elegant cabinet, which retains its original painted decoration, is a rare survival of the Etruscan taste introduced into England in the late 1760s. The black and terracotta decoration to the ovals and the stylized frieze, set against a light-blue ground, are much in the manner of the Etruscan style of Robert Adam (1728-1792), the most celebrated architect and designer of the day. The present cabinet also draws on the conventional classical vocabulary, with a fan motif to the doors and sides and anthemion arcading to the frieze, but renders them in Etruscan colours. The ‘Etruscan Dressing Room’ was executed by Adam’s decorative artist Pietro Mario Borgnis (1743-1801). The decoration was first painted onto paper that was then pasted onto canvas which was attached to the walls of the room. Much the same technique is employed in the present cabinet, where the black and red Etruscan work is painted onto paper and then laid down onto the painted pale blue ground.