Chest of Drawers
Although a Western form, this chest of drawers is decorated with Asian materials, bamboo and cane. At the 1876 Centennial exhibition in Philadelphia, Japan showed furniture made of these materials, and American merchants subsequently imported or made here in Brooklyn, but it is evocative indicator of the appeal of Japanism to the American market and the melding of Western and Eastern cultures.
Woven cane, bamboo, brass, mirror
78 x 37 1/2 x 18 in. (198.1 x 95.3 x 45.7 cm) (show scale)
Printed cardboard label nailed to back: "NIMURA & SATO CO., / Japanese Bamboo Works, / Parlor, Bed Room and Hall Sets / All kinds of Fancy Works made to order, and / Japanese Crockery and Fancy Goods / Everything Guaranteed to be First Class and of the latest style / at Lowest Price, / No. 707 Fulton Street / Brooklyn, N.Y."
Gift of Herbert Hemphill
High-backed chest of drawers, in Japanese "bamboo" style; surface covered in woven cane and edges in bamboo. Secondary woods are eastern white pine and tulip-poplar. Chest part has three drawers, graduated in size, covered with woven cane edged in bamboo, and with decorated bamboo ribbon work in center. Cast brass bail pulls with stamped brass escutcheons on either side. Back panel has corner shelves at each side, near base, attached between back and scrolled bamboo sidepieces. Diamond shaped mirror in between; above are two rectangular openings for prints. At top is narrow shelf with openwork bamboo gallery at back.
Condition: fair, some bamboo and cane missing. Cane panels on piece ragged at edges; bulging in spots. Right rear caster missing.
This item is not on view
Nimura & Sato Company (late 1880s-1890s). Chest of Drawers, ca. 1905-1915. Woven cane, bamboo, brass, mirror, 78 x 37 1/2 x 18 in. (198.1 x 95.3 x 45.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Herbert Hemphill, 68.47.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 68.47.1_bw.jpg)
overall, 68.47.1_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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What can you tell me about this chest?
That's a really interesting room, in general. It shows the ways that so many American artists and craftsmen were influenced by foreign cultures in their work at the turn of the last century.
The overall shape/form of this chest of drawers is European, but the materials are Asian-inspired: bamboo and woven cane. Americans had a particular interest in Japan in the later 1800s, after the US reopened trade with Japan in the 1850s and Japanese goods were imported in large quantities. You might also notice Asian influences in other objects in that gallery, like the folding mirror in a case to the left and the porcelain dishes nearby.
Are the prints original to this chest? They look added later, and are quite beautiful.
Originally there were different prints in this chest but they have been replaced. What you see there are modern reproductions of Japanese prints in our Asian Art collection here at the Museum.
Thanks so much!