• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7745

    Important European Furniture, Sculpture & Clocks

    9 July 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 21

    A PAIR OF SOUTH ITALIAN MOTHER-OF-PEARL, TORTOISESHELL- AND BRASS-INLAID WALNUT, AMARANTH AND EBONY MARQUETRY COMMODES

    SICILY, LATE 17TH/EARLY 18TH CENTURY, PROBABLY PALERMO

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A PAIR OF SOUTH ITALIAN MOTHER-OF-PEARL, TORTOISESHELL- AND BRASS-INLAID WALNUT, AMARANTH AND EBONY MARQUETRY COMMODES
    SICILY, LATE 17TH/EARLY 18TH CENTURY, PROBABLY PALERMO
    Each with a serpentine-fronted moulded top, centred by a cartouche with a bust within a shield flanked by martial attributes and floral scrolls, the corners similarly inlaid with floral bouquets within shaped reserves, above four serpentine-fronted and simulated panelled drawers, centred by crowned shield-shaped escutcheons and further decorated with foliate sprays and husk trails, the similarly-inlaid shaped sides each fitted with a door enclosing three shelves, above a moulded plinth, on later carved lion mask feet
    42½ in. (108 cm.) high; 70 in. (178 cm.) wide; 24½ in. (62.5 cm.) deep (2)


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    These magnificent commodes, veneered with exquisite marquetry of engraved mother-of-pearl, brass and tortoiseshell strikingly set against a dark ground of exotic veneers, is part of a small group of masterpieces of an unidentified Sicilian intarsiatore.

    Only one other such impressive cassettone, decorated with this distinctive marquetry, is known and attributable to the workshop of this skilled intarsiatore (sold at Sotheby's, Milan, 16-17 December 1997, lot 557 and now in a private collection). However, the identification is convincingly supported by the closely related delicate floral marquetry in engraved mother-of-pearl preserved on a late 17th century altar panel and a table top at the Oratorio di Santa Caterina d'Alessandria all'Olivella in Palermo (E. Colle, il Mobile Barocco in Italia, Milan, 2000, p. 56)
    A remarkable casket inlaid with identical ribbon-tied engraved mother-of-pearl sprays and attributed to the workshops of Trapani, though probably a work of the same intarsiatore, is conserved in the Ezio Governale collection in Palermo and illustrated by M. Giarrizzo and A. Rotolo, Mobili e Mobilieri nella Sicilia del Settecento, 1992, Palermo, ill. 11, p. 72.

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    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN