In the second half of the 18th century, this type of chest of drawers or commode, with right angles and straight sober lines, replaced the curved and exuberant forms of the baroque or the highly symmetrical rocaille designs. Claude-Charles Saunier (1735-1807) completely espoused these canons of straightness, which were characteristic of the reign of Louis XVI, making commodes (generally in pairs, as is the case here), tables and writing desks, in an elegant combination of light and dark woods, or other materials. In this piece, the front was covered with panels of precious and highly expensive Japanese lacquer, decorated in gold, while the less visible sides were coated in French lacquer, the Martin varnish.
The exceptional workmanship of this piece reveals not only the great skill of the ébéniste, but also his full understanding of the predominant taste of that time. Originating from the collections of the Portuguese Royal Household, it formed part of the furniture of the green room of the Palácio das Necessidades, when Dom Fernando of Saxe-Coburg, the husband of Dona Maria II, lived there.