In the Dom José period (1750-1777), Portuguese furniture was subjected to a strong English influence, resulting, among other typologies, in bureau-cabinets inspired by the designs of famous furniture makers, such as Thomas Chippendale. As was the case with other pieces of furniture, the Portuguese versions differed from the original models through the woods that were used, their type of decoration or their mounts. The upper cabinet part of the bureau – which was originally intended to serve as a bookcase – was frequently adapted in Portugal to display the images of saints that were afforded a special devotion.
In this case, standing on a sober Brazilian rosewood commode is an oratory, made of the same wood, its splendid interior being hinted at by the carved and gilded woodwork of its decoration. When the doors are opened, we see a magnificent crucifix with the silver figures of the apostles at its base, set against a polychrome background with marble effects and clouds. On either side of the crucifix are the estofado wooden images of St. Rita of Cascia and St. Joseph, with their attributes in silver. Equally significant during this period was the transfer of this type of furniture from more intimate spaces to reception rooms.