John Evelyn was a diarist, botanist, mental and panorama gardener — and this monumental cabinet is commensurate along with his manifold roles. Commissioned for him by his spouse Mary Browne, daughter of the English ambassador in Paris, it’s product of engraved ebony, its inside inlaid with unique veneers and ivory.
Inside the labyrinth of drawers and compartments may very well be saved all of the trivia of a multitasking virtuoso.
Evelyn would want each sq. inch. First, to accommodate his prodigious diaries, which bore witness to 60 years of momentous occasions, from the execution of Charles I and the rise of Oliver Cromwell to the Great Plague and Great Fire of London.
Published posthumously, they rivalled these of his good friend Samuel Pepys and, says the V&A museum, are “perhaps the greatest record of morals, manners and tastes of the leading personalities in the reign of Charles II”.
More hefty paperwork could be produced throughout Evelyn’s years as an adviser to Charles II. And when not hobnobbing with court docket friends, he may very well be discovered holding forth on the Royal Society, of which he was a founding member, on the scientific and technological discoveries of the day, with the likes of Isaac Newton and Christopher Wren.
Not to overlook his profession in public affairs as an city planner, commissioner of the Royal Mint and overseer of charitable works.
Finding that court docket life was finally stuffed with “fruitless, vicious and empty conversations”, nevertheless, Evelyn sought refuge in horticulture. “The air and genius of gardens operate upon human spirits towards virtue and sanctity,” he wrote. He launched European landscaping to England, utilizing his well-known Italian backyard at Sayes Court, Deptford, as a showcase.
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That didn’t cease his ever-prolific compositions. An early environmentalist, Evelyn was the creator of Sylva, a plea for reforestation following the depletion of woodland resulting from trade, and Fumifugium (or The Inconveniencie of the Aer and Smoak of London Dissipated), the primary guide to sort out London’s air air pollution drawback.
“It is this horrid Smoake which obscures our Churches and makes our Palaces look old, which fouls our Clothes and corrupts the Waters,” he wrote.
Evelyn’s cabinet was a personalized, turbocharged Mac Pro for the 17th-century alpha male. But much less exalted males additionally wanted a nook of the home to name their very own, to manage affairs or get pleasure from hobbies, even when it was only a easy desk or a yard to tinker in. However grandiose or humble, these have been the precursors to the storage, shed or “man cave” of at this time.