Browse Lots

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
A CHARLES II PIETRA DURA-INLAID PADOUK AND EBONIZED CABINET-ON-STAND
A CHARLES II PIETRA DURA-INLAID PADOUK AND EBONIZED CABINET-ON-STAND
A CHARLES II PIETRA DURA-INLAID PADOUK AND EBONIZED CABINET-ON-STAND
6 More
A CHARLES II PIETRA DURA-INLAID PADOUK AND EBONIZED CABINET-ON-STAND
9 More
Please note this lot will be moved to Christie’s F… Read more PROPERTY FROM A CONNECTICUT COLLECTION
A CHARLES II PIETRA DURA-INLAID PADOUK AND EBONIZED CABINET-ON-STAND

THE PIETRA DURA PANELS ATTRIBUTED TO THE GRAND DUCAL WORKSHOPS, FLORENCE, SECOND HALF 17TH CENTURY, THE CABINET CIRCA 1670, THE STAND GEORGE II, CIRCA 1730

Details
A CHARLES II PIETRA DURA-INLAID PADOUK AND EBONIZED CABINET-ON-STAND
THE PIETRA DURA PANELS ATTRIBUTED TO THE GRAND DUCAL WORKSHOPS, FLORENCE, SECOND HALF 17TH CENTURY, THE CABINET CIRCA 1670, THE STAND GEORGE II, CIRCA 1730
The stepped rectangular pediment over two sets of four drawers each mounted with two pietra dura placques, centered by an arched surround, comprising an upper and lower drawer, and central door flanked by Sicilian jasper and gilt-metal Corinthian columns, the central panel depicting Orpheus, the door opens to interior fitted with two long and two short drawers and mirrored sides, on conforming plinth fitted with one long drawer, on conforming base raised on cabriole legs and pad feet
67 ½ in. (171.5 cm.) high, 52 ¼ in. (133 cm.) wide, 22 in. (56 cm.) deep, overall
Provenance
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 11 June 2003, lot 3.
Special notice

Please note this lot will be moved to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services (CFASS in Red Hook, Brooklyn) at 5pm on the last day of the sale. Lots may not be collected during the day of their move to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services. Please consult the Lot Collection Notice for collection information. This sheet is available from the Bidder Registration staff, Purchaser Payments or the Packing Desk and will be sent with your invoice.

Brought to you by

Casey Rogers
Casey Rogers Head of Sale

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

Condition report

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

This cabinet beautifully depicts the magical tale of the poet musician Orpheus, known in Greek mythology quaintly as the first musician. Orpheus was the son of Oeagrus, King of Thrace, and the muse Calliope, who presided over epic poetry and music. It was the god Apollo who taught Orpheus to play the lyre as an adolescent, the instrument for which he is synonymous. The myth describes Orpheus' gift for music as divine and superhuman, and with the ability to charm any living creature, making rocks move and trees dance. The most famous tale of Orpheus surrounds the death of his beloved Eurydice. When Orpheus’ wife Eurydice fell into a nest of vipers and died, he mourned her death by playing music. In Ovid’s Metamorphoses he recounts how the harsh Fates shed their first tears listening to Orpheus’ transcendent music. They advised him to meet with the gods of the Underworld, Hades and Persephone, to try and rescue his wife. So moved by his plea and his beautiful music the gods agreed but told him he must not look back until they reach the surface. Eager to see his wife again, just before the opening of the cave Orpheus looked back, thus sending her back to the Underworld forever. He spent the rest of his life mourning his wife, never to love again, and enchanting those with his sorrowful music. One day, Orpheus sent to worship the sun god Apollo, and was caught by Maenads for not properly honoring the oracle Dionysus and was killed.

This tale became an increasingly popular depiction in sixteenth-century art. During a period of intense political upheaval and religious strife, the story became a symbol of hope and endurance.

The imagery of Orpheus charming the animals was one of the Galleria de' Lavoris most popular subjects, and reflects the high technical standards of the workshop (W. Koeppe, A. Giusti, Art of the Royal Court: Treasures in Pietre Dure from the Palaces of Europe, New Haven and London, 2008, pp. 176-177). The Galleria de' Lavori, the Medici grand-ducal workshop in Florence, was founded by Grand Duke Ferdinando I of Tuscany in 1588.

One of the most important examples is the Barberini Cabinet in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, completed between 1606-1623. The central panel similarly modelled with Orpheus on a rock, playing music amongst the animals is surrounded by whimsical illustrations of animals and the hunt, after woodcut illustrations from Aesop’s Fables.

The impressive jewel-like panels most popularly illustrated birds, flowers and animals, even visitors in exotic textiles and Italianate landscapes. In the latter half of the seventeenth century many wealthy patrons embarking on the ‘Grand Tour’ collected these panels, and often commissioned cabinets to set the panels into, such as the present lot. The design evolved from the German Wunderkammer or Italian studiolo, with ebony-framed reliquaries ornamented with pietra dura panels and gilt mounts. They had several functions: as a ‘cabinet of curiosities’ in which precious items such as gemstones, carved ivories and small bronzes were kept; as a statement piece of furniture that illustrated the refined learning of the cabinet’s owner; and also to display wealth and prestige. Occasionally, sets of pietra dura panels of Orpheus together with smaller ones of animals having come to listen to him were sold together. Only three other cabinets are known to incorporate full surviving sets: an Italian table cabinet dated to circa 1620 and now at the Detroit Institute of Arts (inv. 1994.77 and illustrated A. Giusti, Pietre Dure and the Art of the Florentine Inlay, London, 2006, pp. 168-9, ill. 138); a Flemish cabinet-on-stand sold from the collections of Valerian Rybar and Jean-François Daigre, Christie's, Paris, 5 June 2003, lot 35; and an exquisite French cabinet attributed to Domenico Cucci and the Gobelins Workshop, dated to circa 1665-1675 and sold at Christie’s, London, 10 December 2009, lot 875.

More from The Exceptional Sale

View All
View All