Portuguese 'Contador' Cabinet with Decorative Stand
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Portuguese 'Contador' Cabinet with Decorative Stand

 

Portugal
18th Century
Walnut and ebonized wood, pierced gilt brass mounts
Cm 142 high x 93 wide x 50 deep  (Cabinet / 67 cm high, Stand / 75 cm high)

Similar to the Spanish bargueño, the Portuguese "contador" cabinet started out as a small portable chest of drawers used for storing valuables and documents. Beginning in the 17th century, with the addition of a matching stand, the contador cabinet became its own independent piece of furniture. A particular style of decoration developed for these cabinets, including the characteristic "torcidos e tremidos" or "twisted and shaking" moldings and sculptural turned legs, as well as dark ebony-colored wood offset by pierced gilt brass metalwork. These design motifs became hallmarks of Portuguese "National Style" furniture, and examples of very similar cabinets can be seen in various museum collections, including the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga in Lisbon.

This cabinet and its matching stand are both in very nice shape, with some minor finish wear normal for items of this age. The front is divided into nine equal drawer fronts, disguising seven actual drawers - five small, one double vertical and one double horizontal (please see photos). The drawers are locking, and the original key is included, making this a functional and highly decorative storage piece.

 

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