Lot 119
  • 119

An Italian tortoiseshell inlaid ebony and ebonised cabinet on a carved lacca a mecca stand the cabinet, Neapolitan, mid 17th century, the stand Sicilian, early 18th century

35,000 - 50,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Rosewood, ebony, tortoiseshell, pine, walnut, poplar, giltwood
  • Stand: 98cm. high, 200cm. wide, 54.5cm. deep; 3ft. 2½in., 6ft. 6¾in. 1ft. 9½in; top 117cm. high, 187cm. wide, 49cm. deep; 3ft. 10in., 6ft. 1½in., 1ft. 7¼in.
with eight panelled drawers flanking an architectural niche with a gilt-bronze figure of Venus, the central drawer opening to reveal a removable compartment lined with panels of polychrome decorated paper beneath glass with a drawer concealed above and below; the stand re-gilt


Formerly in the Collection of Marchese e Conte Giuseppe Piromallo Capece Piscicelli di Montebello. Duca di Capracotta.

Catalogue Note

Comparative Literature:
Enrico Colle, Il Mobile Barocco in Italia Arredi e Decorazioni d'interni dal 1600 al 1738, Milan, 2000, p. 23.
Monique Riccardi-Cubitt,The Art of the Cabinet, London, 1992, plate 30, for a related tortoiseshell and ebony cabinet.
Alvar González, Il Tempio del Gusto, Milan, 1984, vol. II, fig.446. 

In around 1640,  tortoiseshell was used as a veneer with a backing of red pigment or gold foil to similate the rich warm tones of amber to convey an impression of luxury. This cabinet with its strong architectural outline with a breakfront central frontispiece with a broken pediment enclosing a gilt-bronze statue in a niche, surmounted by another similar niche conveys the grandeur of Italian baroque cabinets.

The stand is most unusual and later in date and bears the armorial of the Holy Roman Emire, with its bold design and florid carved decoration and demonstrates the influence of Rome combined with the richness of the South of Italy. It is worthwhile considering the drawings of Giacomo Amato, a Sicilian artist and designer who also worked and lived in Rome, from 1671-1683, see Colle , op. cit., p. 23 and although this stand is not based upon any of the published drawings by Colle, they are conceived in a similar vein. 

It is worthwhile comparing a tortoiseshell and ebony cabinet of very similar architectural form illustrated by Giarrrizzo and Rotolo, Il Mobile Siciliano, Palermo, 2004, p. 76, fig., 107, in the Galleria Regionale della Sicilia, Palermo. 

The double-headed eagle on the base is of the Holy Roman Empire and probably refers to Leopold I (1640-1705) or Joseph I (1705-1711) and may well have been a commission for one of them.