* Translated by Mrs. A. Hofstede
Large cupboard with two doors and columns
Frisian ; Oak
Height 234 cm
Width of the cornice 229 cm
Depth 102 cm
In the beautiful province of Frisia (Friesland) in the north of our country, with its rich cultural heritage and beautiful Manors some typically Frisian cupboards have evolved during the seventeenth century. The better known types are called “Keeftkasten” with two doors and the “Amelander kasten” with four or five doors. However, another type of cupboard with two doors evolved which is much rarer than the above mentioned cupboards and even richer in decoration. In its shape and decorations it is influenced by Renaissance furniture form the province of Groningen (also in the north) and the province of Holland.
Two years ago we were able to offer for sale such a rare cupboard at the Amsterdam antiques fair the PAN. It was even adorned with the coat of arms of two, hitherto unknown Frisian families.
Now we are very proud to be able tell you about another one of these unique and very rare Frisian cupboards. It is a truly monumental cupboard due to its size and imposing columns. It must in its time, have adorned the hall or an imposing living room in a very important Frisian Manor or maybe a town hall.
Typical for Frisian cupboards is the rather heavy, richly moulded overhanging cornice with its protruding consoles/corbels, above an unadorned, slightly convex shaped frieze. In Dutch it is called a “spittoon” frieze because its shape resembles a seventeenth century Dutch spittoon.
This type of unusual shaped cornice with spittoon frieze can also be found on certain richly carved pulpits in some Frisian churches, for instance in the church of Anjum but also on an unusually early Keeftkast and two bedsteads in the seventeenth century Manor the Heringa State of doctor Henricus Popta in the village of Marssum near Leeuwarden.
The diagonally placed, round fluted columns with their beautifully carved Corinthian capitals and richly carved pedestals are not attached to the frame of the cupboard, which is standard in most cupboards. They are standing loose, which is a very rare feature in the first half of the seventeenth century on Dutch cupboards. Only three other cupboards are known with this unusual feature, two in Frisia and one in the southern province of Zeeland. This type of construction allows the support of a large overhanging cornice, which in this case enhances the proportions of the cupboard.
The two large doors are decorated in a rather unusual way. The tympanum is flanked by scroll work as is the small lion head. This kind of decoration is directly derived from sixteenth century drawings by the Frisian born architect/designer Hans Vredeman de Vries (1526-1609).
The same kind of decoration can be found on a monumental doorway in the interior of the town hall in Bolsward, which is one of the eleven Frisian cities famous for its 200 kilometre long skating event, which was held when winters were still real winters.
This well known doorway was made in 1615 by the architect/city carpenter Jacob Gijsbert (1579-1655). Underneath this scroll work are placed two lightly moulded pilasters, crowned by an Ionic capital and a richly moulded base. The pilasters are standing on a square panel that is divided in four smaller, moulded squares. The sides consist of a panel in a finely moulded framework. These finely made, delicately executed mouldings are a characteristic feature of early Dutch seventeenth century furniture. Later on in the century the mouldings are executed with less refinement.
The interior consists of three planks which is a normal feature. In Frisian cupboards however is a small compartment installed on the top plank with two doors adorned with open saw work with the same scroll work motifs as on the large doors.
In the rather high base with its finely moulded rectangular panels are no drawers, even though there is enough space. It contains in the inside an empty space which could contain hatboxes. This unusual and rather wasteful construction will be employed again at the end of the seventeenth century on the Frisian Keeftkast.
The cupboard stands on its four corner posts two of which can be seen behind the original bulbous feet under the protruding consoles which support de large columns.
This beautifully executed, typically Frisian cupboard has undergone virtually no restorations or replacements of any parts and has even its original, rather large key and bulbous feet, which is highly unusual because the feet are usually constructed out of white wood, which tend to be susceptible to woodworm and rising damp and due to that reason they are replaced in most cases.