This lacquer cabinet or "Cantoor” is decorated throughout with gold raised ornaments and red details on a black base. The front depicts a landscape with temples and flying phoenixes. The sides and top are decorated with blossom branches, insects and a phoenix. The doors have five gilded metal hinges and are decorated in the centre by an elaborate lock plate. Behind the doors are drawers, adorned with blossom branches and gilt metal fittings. The Cantoor has integral, built-in feet and the whole rests on a richly ornamented French gilt wooden console from the Régence period.
The decoration is to be categorized under the so-called Pictorial Style whereby the artwork is usually executed in gold on black. This style was developed by the Japanese around 1630 to better suit the taste of the Dutch, who had gradually become a major buyer of lacquerware objects. The paintwork is built up of many layers of the prepared sap of the lacquer tree Rhus vernicifera. After applying each layer, the object is dried in a room with a high humidity and then sanded. The effects of relief are achieved by mixing lime through the lower layers of paint. For the decoration in gold, the maki-e technique is applied, whereby gold powder is strewn or gold foil is placed onto the wet varnish. The gold then sinks somewhat into the lacquer. After the lacquer layer has dried, it can be polished. Finally, a layer of transparent varnish is applied, which is also polished.
As early as the beginning of the 17th century, the VOC was interested in Japanese paintwork as a commercial object. When the first paintwork objects arrived in the Netherlands in 1610, it soon became obvious that there was a great difference in quality between the Chinese and Japanese objects. From that moment on, there was a preference for Japanese paintwork. In the early 17th century, Northern Europeans were not yet familiar with Japanese lacquer. The prices were high, and initially there was little interest in the lacquerware products. Although Japanese lacquerware never became commonplace, its trade in Northern Europe began to flourish and Amsterdam became the centre of the trade in lacquerware and other oriental luxury goods.
The cabinets arrived from Japan without a stand. Since the trade in Japanese lacquerware was dominated by the VOC, many cantor cabinets on Dutch consoles exist. Japanese lacquerware quickly found its way to royal palaces and other wealthy people throughout Europe. During the seventeenth century, Louis XIII and XIV, among others, sent Japanese lacquerware to Paris via Amsterdam. The furniture remained very costly. The production costs were high and the crossing to Europe was not without risks.
Herman August Daendels was the last descendant of Herman Willem Daendels (1762-1818). Daendels' career was characterized by a few opportunistic decisions that first brought him to Northern France as a refugee, where he was protected by Louis XVI. However, when in 1792 several Dutchmen were executed by the new regime, Daendels quickly joined them by sending his congratulations to Paris. This is how his military French career began. He joined the French Foreign Legion and was appointed Brigadier General and later Napoleon Lieutenant General in the Batavian army. In 1807, Louis Napoleon sent him as Marshal and Governor General to Batavia, where he was called "Un Napoleon en Miniature," and where he restored the French command within three years and improved the region’s prosperity. He reportedly even crowned himself king. Herman August Daendels eventually supported Napoleon as Divisional Commander during his campaign to Russia.