Edouard Lièvre was one of the most prolific and talented industrial designers of the second half of the 19th century, with an astonishingly wide range: bronze furniture trims, ceramics, ornate neo-Renaissance or Japanese style furniture. They were all designed for production by well-known Paris firms, Barbedienne for the bronzes, Christofle for the goldwork and fashionable fancy goods stores such as l'Escalier de Cristal.
He avoided pastiche mainly because of his talent as an artist – he was a brilliant watercolourist – and his immense culture. He wrote several collections illustrating the great collections of objets d'art, such as Musée impérial du Louvre : collection Sauvageot dessinée et gravée, 1863. His clientele included well-known personalities such as the painter Edouard Detaille and the actress Sarah Bernhardt.
This cabinet is a fanciful interpretation of a pagoda from the Far East decorated with brilliant gilt bronze elements which punctuate the composition. Dragons wind around the slim columns on either side of the cabinet. The cabinet itself is adorned with a panel painted by Detaille, showing a samurai raising a heraldic fan to rally his soldiers. Although we know that Lièvre designed this piece of furniture and l'Escalier de Cristal produced and sold it, the names of the cabinetmaker and bronze smith remain unknown, which shows that the designer-ornamentist then held a foremost role.