Splendid ebony cabinets such as this example, elaborately conceived to display costly Florentine pietra dura panels from the Medici workshops, were mainly produced in Florence and Rome and favoured by a growing population of wealthy patrons. The precious trompe l'oeil mosaics of marbles and hard stones epitomise the princely magnificence of the Opificio delle pietre dure, founded in 1588 by Grand Duke Ferdinand I de Medici, while their never-fading flowers evoke the Arcadian concept of perpetual spring or 'Ver perpetuum'. The richest and most striking element of the façade, framed by drawers embellished with fruiting branches and floral sprays, is the central panel depicting an ormolu-mounted and flower-filled vase. The vase is one of the earliest and most favoured subjects of the grand ducal workshops and can also be found on large-scale panels for the monumental altar of Santo Spirito, executed between 1599 and 1607 for the Michelozzi family. The workshop records of the famous master, Urbano Ferruci describes such 'vasi a commesso in fondo di paragone' (vases inlaid on a ground of black marble).
Related cabinets, including one at the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, are illustrated in A.M. Gusti, Pietre Dure, London. 1992, pp. 61 and 68.