PROPERTY FROM A MEMBER OF THE PALLAVICINI FAMILY
The present cabinet is unusual not only in combining pietra dura with mother-of-pearl, but also in focusing on fruit, instead of the more common perched birds, or flowers. The generous employ of mother-of-pearl would appear to suggest a Northern European origin.
In the upper tier of drawers this cabinet also incorporates two pietra dure panels with (Dutch) tulips. One of the most interesting and remarkable legacies of the "Tulip Mania", the astonishing speculation in tulip bulbs which swept Holland in the 1630s are the so-called "Tulip Books", albums of watercolours solely or mainly depicting tulips. Originally, these tulip books were made as stock catalogues for bulb dealers or sale catalogues for bulb auctions, but even after the dramatic collapse in bulb prices in early 1637, after which the expense of making such a lavish album of watercolours for those purposes could no longer be justified, they remained popular. The collapse of the market for tulips didn’t diminish the Dutch and also international appetite for tulips – in art, at least. Indeed, many of the most popular prototypes from the 1630s continued to be copied well into the 18th century and the present panels seem to derive from one of these Dutch examples.
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