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Early 19th Century Regency Period Gilt Red Japanned Penwork Sewing Cabinet

Early 19th Century Regency Period Gilt Red Japanned Penwork Sewing Cabinet


circa 1810 - 1820

The cabinet with red ground penwork decoration has a a pair of Greek pegasus horses pulling a chariot manned by Zeus the Greek god of sky and thunder, surrounded by a symmetrical leaf pattern on the top. The sides and back are decorated with flowers, leaves and butterflies. Inside there are sections containing sewing tools and reels. The doors open onto two decorated drawers with turned bone handles.

As the sky god, Zeus had easy access to the women of the world and took full advantage of it. Also, his power as a supreme god made him difficult to resist. Prior to his marriage to Hera he was married first to Metis, then Themis. He was interested in Demeter but she resisted him. His third wife was Mnemosyne. He was involved with Leto shortly before his marriage to Hera. The list of lovers after his final marriage, to Hera, is considerable.

Penwork, or Pen and Ink, was used on boxes to illustrate beautiful scenes and sometimes to record a visit to a foreign country or vacation. They can feature people, landscapes, birds, insects, plants, flowers, animals and some have prints of Greek mythology or of spa towns. These were all drawn very exactly and beautifully and finished with a shellac varnish. Some penwork would have been commissioned to professional artists, however, the majority was done by ladies of the time who were often as skilled as the professionals, it being their favourite hobby, hence there are many different examples of Penwork.


Height 18.41cm (7.25 inches)

Width 20.32cm (8 inches)

Depth 15.87cm (6.25 inches)

Stock No: F905


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