'Robber Baron' cabinet
(Job Smeets, born Belgium, 1970; Nynke Tynagel, born Netherlands, 1977)
Cast bronze, polished, patinated and gilded
Edition of 5, artist proof exhibited
Courtesy of a Private Collection, Prague
The Robber Barons were those ruthless 19th-century American industrialists who amassed - and spent - vast fortunes. The objects in this collection, decorated with imagery drawn from heavy industry and warfare, may appeal to the Robber Barons of today: power-hungry despots, oligarchs and bankers. The results are awe-inspiring and overwhelming, while the use of cast bronze evokes the gravitas and status of grand European sculpture and decorative arts.
The large 'Robber Baron' cabinet is based on a cabinet by the Parisian cabinet-maker André-Charles Boulle (1642-1732), now in the Wallace Collection, there is a similar cabinet in the V&A (Museum no.1026-1882). Boulle lavishly decorated his furniture using gilt-bronze mounts and inlaid decoration of brass and tortoiseshell. This cabinet bears the cipher of Louis XIV and furniture like this helped to underline his power and status.