An early 17th century Florentine pietra dura inlaid cabinet.

An early 17th century Florentine pietra dura inlaid cabinet.

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An early 17th century Florentine pietra dura inlaid cabinet.

 

A rare and important early 17th century Florentine ebony, rosewood, pietra dura inlaid and ormolu mounted cabinet, Grand Ducal workshops, Firenze, circa 1620. 

 

Of architectural breakfront form, with a layered moulded cornice above the main body of the cabinet. The facade consisting of a central portico design with the main panel flanked by a pair of portasanta brecciata marble pilasters and a pair of reeded pink veined marble and ormolu mounted corinthian columns, on ebony moulded and fior di pesco veneered plinths, with later ormolu urns above. The central portico including a large door with a drawer beneath and a drawer above. The door opening to reveal three further ebony veneered drawers. The portico flanked by four drawers each side, each drawer with a pair of pieta dura and pietra paesina panels within ebony mouldings. The cabinet standing on cast bronze lion feet.

 

The cabinet decorated with a series of 19 fine quality pieta dura and pietra paesina panels, each one depicting a separate village or country estate scene. Each panel made from multiple pieces of carefully selected coloured marble and hardstone, cut, filed, joined and applied to a slate base layer.

 

This is an example of the finest and most important furniture of its time. The quality of the pieta dura panels themselves is superb and the fineness of the ebony mouldings bordering them is also outstanding. Pietra dura, or literally “paintings in coloured hard stone” was the highest form of decoration in two dimensions at the time and made almost exclusivelyfor royalty and nobility.

 

A cabinet such as this, covered in scenes of various country estates may have been made for a very important ruling family like the Medici to represent all of their rural landholdings. Collectors cabinets in themselves were objects of great status and to display your property wealth on an object of status using the highest ranking form of decoration would have been rather symbolic to say the least.

 

 

Grand Ducal workshops, Firenze, circa 1620.

Provenance: Estate of Margaret B. Nichols, USA

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