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East Asian Cabinets

Grand & Imperial Tour

Around 1755/60 the two cabinets were appointed with precious chinoiserie furnishings and decoration, testifying tot he predilection and admiration for the lacquerwork, silk wall hangings and porcelain from China and Japan that started in the early eighteenth century and had increasingly influence on styles of interior decoration in the princely palaces of Europe

East Asian Cabinets

To either side of the Small Gallery are the East Asian Cabinets, until recently known erroneously as Chinese cabinets. Only the right-hand cabinet can correctly be termed Chinese in reference to the Chinese porcelain displayed there, while the left-hand east cabinet should be referred to as the Japanese Oval Cabinet. Both rooms have a distinctly intimate character and were used by Maria Theresa for small social gatherings, for example for playing cards. Before the rooms were decorated as we see them today, the Round Cabinet was used as a small conference room, in which the so-called ‘tables de conspiration‘ took place. These were secret conferences at which meals were served to the participants by means of a moveable table winched up from the room on the floor below, so that they would not be disturbed or eavesdropped upon by the servants.

Maria Theresa was especially fond of chinoiserie and it found its way into several rooms at Schönbrunn. The East Asian Cabinets have white panelling with elaborately gilded rocaille work. Set into the walls between the mirrors are Chinese lacquer panels of various shapes and sizes which are painted with landscapes, flowers and birds. Out of their gilded frames grow small consoles supporting figures, vases and other vessels of blue and white porcelain of secure Chinese and Japanese provenance. Another noteworthy feature of these rooms are the fire-gilt Rococo chandeliers with their enamel nozzles and drip pans, as well as the precious intarsia flooring made of various richly-grained exotic and indigenous woods.

Further interesting literature:

  • Krist, Gabriela/Iby, Elfriede (editors). Investigation and Conservation of East Asian Cabinets in Imperial Residences (1700 – 1900). Lacquerware and Porcelain. Converence 2013 Postprints. Wien-Köln-Weimar 2015
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