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    Sale 7623

    Important Early European Furniture, Sculpture and Tapestries

    6 November 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 569

    AN ITALIAN PARCEL-GILT, PIETRA DURA-INSET AND FRUITWOOD-INLAID EBONY AND EBONISED CABINET-ON-STAND

    SECOND HALF 17TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    AN ITALIAN PARCEL-GILT, PIETRA DURA-INSET AND FRUITWOOD-INLAID EBONY AND EBONISED CABINET-ON-STAND
    SECOND HALF 17TH CENTURY
    Decorated overall with pietra dura and marble plaques including lapis lazuli, bianco e nero, rosso antico, giallo antico, alabastro and onyx, depicting birds, fruit and floral sprays, the rectangular three-quarter balustraded gallery surmounted by spread-winged eagle finials, above a moulded frieze decorated with foliate scrolls and above an architectural front with nineteen variously-sized drawers, arranged around a central cupboard door flanked by spirally-turned pilasters, and two shell-decorated arched niches, the sides with doors simulated as drawers and enclosing shelves, the moulded stand decorated with scrolling foliage, on spirally-turned pilaster supports joined by a conformingly-decorated platform, on toupie feet, two figures lacking beneath the niches, the balustraded gallery and finials later and probably added in the 19th century when the stand was fitted, losses to the ebonised mouldings
    71¾ in. (182 cm.) high; 68 in. (173 cm.) wide; 19¼ in. (49.5 cm.) deep


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    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.

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