Thursday, June 18, 2009

Glass cabinets

I have a special connection to all kinds of glass cabinets. Maybe it's my passion for displaying and collecting things, maybe it's the old exciting feeling of finding treasures buried under books and papers. Perhaps images of the curiosity cabinets of the 18Th century drift in front of my inner eye, filled with the incredible collections of amateur scientists, gentleman with the means of accumulating pieces from the far ends of the world such as butterflies, insects, gems, trophies from antiquity, busts and stuffed birds, African masks, shells, corals, odds and ends of personal interest!

John Derian's home

Later, when fine china and books became widely available regular households kept such valuable things in often beautifully decorated cabinets.

Cabinets had been around since the beginning of the 17Th century mostly to display the collections at various courts in Europe. Glass itself was expensive, made by hand and not yet widely available to furniture makers. By the mid 18TH century glass cabinets had become popular, particularly with the first movements of enlightenment.

People not only showed their status with money but through education and knowledge of the arts and sciences. Discoveries in far lands made collections and the first, mostly private museums possible.

At my first visit to the British Museum only a few years back I was reminded of those early days of collecting and the burning desire to get to know the world.
The walls are covered with the most delightful glass cabinets, filled with treasures.

Today we can find use of glass cabinets everywhere, from keeping a proper butlers pantry stacked with china to towels in the bathroom.

We still house collections and books, although in the second half of the 20Th century the use had become of less importance. Open shelves had taken over. Modern, more reduced forms and the shift of entertainment had changed they way we lived and rooms had become often smaller and more functional.

Many of us use glass cabinets in kitchens and this is rather new development, since in times past, when wealthy people didn't run their own household but the stuff reigned in the kitchen and utility quarters these old kitchens were not thought of as stylish places.
Well, since then families have become much smaller and family life now happens largely in spacious kitchen/dining/family rooms. Again we use glass cabinets for the display of books, china and so much more.
Collecting things is a human need it seems, people enjoy bringing things together, they group and sort, compare and categorize, it's a way of knowing who we are and were we live. Showing off one's prized possessions in a most delightful way is a joy to pass on!

Pictures from Judith Miller's 'Furniture' book, J.Derian's home via 'A Bloomsbury life' blog and 'New Decorating' book, ABC store, my own and The picture quality is not perfect, forgive me!


  1. I have one in my dining room and it stores so many things. Hard to pick a favorite...Ax

  2. I should check out the British Museum again. Your photographs are evocative, I especially like John Derian's with the lovely seat by his cabinet, perhaps to admire his collection or read...


Related Posts with Thumbnails