Renaissance Vanitas Cabinet
South German, probably Augsburg, c. 1570
Carcass: conifer; intarsia / veneer: ash, plumwood, maple, various native deciduous woods in part stained; mounts and fittings: steel etched
Height 51 cm, width 70 cm, depth 36 cm
This cabinet with its beautifully worked intarsia stands out among South German artworks from the second half of the 16th century because of its extraordinary iconography with vanitas motives and depictions of animal. Conceived as a travelling cabinet, it was originally used to store away valuable documents, coins, paper, writing instruments as well as pretiosa that the original owner – without doubt a man of noble status – would have brought with him on his travels. The strong handles on both sides allow for a firm grip for the transportation of the cabinet. Cabinets of this quality and with such iconography are very rare. A very similar piece belongs to the collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.