This magnificent commode displays the massive rectilinear outline and bold geometric marquetry decoration of the finest quality which is characteristic of the Turinese workshop of Giuseppe Maggiolini (d. 1814), the celebrated "Intarsiatore" to Archduke Ferdinand (d.1824).
Though unsigned, the form and the quality of this commode relates directly to other commodes made in Maggiolini's workshop in the 1790's. The distinctive design of the double interwoven guilloche which frames this commode compares directly to a design by Maggiolini now in the Civica Raccolta delle Stampe, A. Bertarelli, Milan, which is illustrated in G. Morrazoni, IL Mobile Intarsio di Giuseppe Maggiolini, Milan, 1957, pl. CXI (a). Furthermore, the distinguishing feature of marquetry inlaid into the curved edge of the frieze and the inlay at the tops of the legs also on a a curved ground is of a type found on numerous other documented pieces by Maggiolini. The central and side marquetry panels depiciting fantastic chinoiserie-inspired pavillions, though not found on other Maggiolini pieces, are well within his artistic vocabulary and range of design inspiration. While chinoiserie was generally out of fashion in at the end of the 18th Century, Maggiolini did employ chinoiserie motifs, such as those found on a commode and chair illustrated in G. Beretti, Giuseppe e Carlo Francesco Maggiolini, L'Officina del Neoclassicismo, Milan 1994, p. 51, pl.50, and p. 54, pl. IV. Additionally, the marquetry of the fantastic pavilion which decorates this commode could have been inspired by a drawing for a similar architectural pavillion such as one by Giuseppe Piermarini which depicts an exotic construction designed for the archducal wedding in 1771, illustrated in op.cit p.10, pl. 1.
Giuseppe Maggiolini (1738-1814) was first noticed for his advanced and highly skilled marquetry work in 1768, when he was visited by the designer Giuseppe Levati and Marchese Litta, which led to several commissions at the villa of the Marchese. He was soon recognized in wider circles and held the title of Intarsiatore delle Loro Altezze Reali. In 1771 he received his first important commission to supply furniture to the Milanese court, on the marriage of the Archduke Ferdinando di Lorena and Duchess Maria Beatrice d'Este. His workshop grew to thirty employees, and subsequently, among others, supervised the construction and furnishing projects of the Palazzo Ducale in Milan, the Villa Reale in Monza and the Palazzo Ducale in Mantova. He enjoyed great success and numerous commissions from the bourgeoisie in Northern Italy. It was only with the political changes of 1796, which overthrew the old regime, that his success diminished before receiving important commissions anew towards the end of the century. He died impoverished in 1814.