Cabinet thumbnail 1
Cabinet thumbnail 2
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Furniture, Room 133, The Dr Susan Weber Gallery

This object consists of 2 parts, some of which may be located elsewhere.

Cabinet


This cabinet is probably of Northern European origin, and set with Florentine hardstone mosaics made in the so-called Commesso di pietre dure technique. It is one of two pictorial techniques in stone, the other being intarsia. A pietre dure mosaic is created by cutting slices of semiprecious stones that are cut to shape and assembled face down. In a second step the mosaic is consolidated with resin that is poured over the back and finally backed with a slate tablet.

Hardstone Mosaics (Commesso di pietre dure)

The history of this technique goes back to the sixteenth century. In 1588 Ferdinand de' Medici established the Grand Ducal workshop in Florence, which supported and patronised the specialised art of hardstone mosaics. Many craftsmen were trained in Florence before setting up studios around Italy. Pietre dure mosaics were produced in Florence, Milan and Rome; other European cities, such as Prague also became centre of production later on.

Soon craftsmen were attempting to create the perfect 'stone paintings' through the clever exploitation of the natural variations in pigment of the stones. By the seventeenth century when the plaques for this cabinet were made, the technique was highly refined and allowed the creation of figural pictures. They sometimes included transparent stones, such as those used for the cherries on the two outer pictures one the base row of panels.

A video showing the creation of a hardstone mosaic panel is available on the web site of the Victoria and Albert Museum on: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/videos/m/video-making-a-pietre-dure-panel/

The subject-matters of the panels of this cabinet - birds, flowers and even the fountain in a courtyard - are typical for Florentine work of the period, as is the black background. It is likely that the panels were purchased by a traveller and taken home to be set in a cabinet made by a local craftsman. Florentine pietre dure panels were sought-after and luxurious Grand Tour souvenirs and can be found on pieces of furniture from all over Europe.

The Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum

Sir Arthur Gilbert and his wife Rosalinde formed one of the world's great decorative art collections, including silver, mosaics, enamelled portrait miniatures and gold boxes. Arthur Gilbert donated his extraordinary collection to Britain in 1996.


object details
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 20 parts.

  • Cabinet
  • Stand
  • Drawer
  • Drawer
  • Drawer
  • Drawer
  • Drawer
  • Drawer
  • Drawer
  • Drawer
  • Drawer
  • Drawer
  • Drawer
  • Drawer
  • Drawer
  • Blind Drawer
  • Blind Drawer
  • Blind Drawer
  • Drawer
  • Drawer
Materials and Techniques
cabinet: pietre dure, ebonised softwoodwood and brass, stand: carved giltwood
Brief Description
Cabinet and base, pietre dure: Florence, cabinet: North European, 17th century, stand: English, 1640.
Physical Description
Table cabinet made of softwood with ebony veneer and rippled moulding and fitted with brass mounts, it is set with Florentine pietre dure panels. The cabinet is set on an English stand of carved and gilded wood
Dimensions
  • Cabinet height: 57.5cm
  • Cabinet length: 89.5cm
  • Cabinet depth: 35.6cm
  • Stand height: 80cm
  • Stand length: 97.8cm
  • Stand depth: 41.9cm
Gallery Label
Cabinet About 1650 Using panels of 1600–50 Cabinet: Northern Europe (possibly Paris or Antwerp) Poplar, softwood and fruitwood with ebony veneer Panels: Italy (Florence) Black marble and pietre dure Mounts: brass The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.105-2008 Florentine pietre dure is a form of hardstone marquetry. To make the panels, slices of hardstone were sawn to shape and assembled face down. The resulting stone marquetry was backed with resin and slate, and the front polished smooth. The technique was perfected in the Grand Ducal workshops of Florence in the late 16th century and spread to other cities.(01/12/2012)
Credit line
The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Object history
Provenance: Sale, Sotheby's, London, lot 105, 25/07/1969.
Summary
This cabinet is probably of Northern European origin, and set with Florentine hardstone mosaics made in the so-called Commesso di pietre dure technique. It is one of two pictorial techniques in stone, the other being intarsia. A pietre dure mosaic is created by cutting slices of semiprecious stones that are cut to shape and assembled face down. In a second step the mosaic is consolidated with resin that is poured over the back and finally backed with a slate tablet.



Hardstone Mosaics (Commesso di pietre dure)



The history of this technique goes back to the sixteenth century. In 1588 Ferdinand de' Medici established the Grand Ducal workshop in Florence, which supported and patronised the specialised art of hardstone mosaics. Many craftsmen were trained in Florence before setting up studios around Italy. Pietre dure mosaics were produced in Florence, Milan and Rome; other European cities, such as Prague also became centre of production later on.



Soon craftsmen were attempting to create the perfect 'stone paintings' through the clever exploitation of the natural variations in pigment of the stones. By the seventeenth century when the plaques for this cabinet were made, the technique was highly refined and allowed the creation of figural pictures. They sometimes included transparent stones, such as those used for the cherries on the two outer pictures one the base row of panels.



A video showing the creation of a hardstone mosaic panel is available on the web site of the Victoria and Albert Museum on: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/videos/m/video-making-a-pietre-dure-panel/



The subject-matters of the panels of this cabinet - birds, flowers and even the fountain in a courtyard - are typical for Florentine work of the period, as is the black background. It is likely that the panels were purchased by a traveller and taken home to be set in a cabinet made by a local craftsman. Florentine pietre dure panels were sought-after and luxurious Grand Tour souvenirs and can be found on pieces of furniture from all over Europe.



The Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum



Sir Arthur Gilbert and his wife Rosalinde formed one of the world's great decorative art collections, including silver, mosaics, enamelled portrait miniatures and gold boxes. Arthur Gilbert donated his extraordinary collection to Britain in 1996.
Bibliographic References
  • Sherman, Anthony C. The Gilbert Mosaic Collection. Edited by M. Barbara Scheibel. West Haven, Connecticut: Pendulum Press, 1971, cat. no. 32.
  • Avery, Charles, assisted by Arthur Emperatori. Mosaics from the Gilbert Collection: summary catalogue. Exhibition catalogue Victoria & Albert Museum. London: H.M.S.O. 1975, cat. no. 45.
  • Hillier, Bevis. 'The Gilbert Collection of Mosaics'. The Connoisseur, vol. 188, no. 758, April 1975, pl. A, p. 269.
  • Sunset, 1977, p. 71
  • Gonzalez-Palacios, Alvar. The Art of Mosaics: Selections from the Gilbert Collection, Los Angeles (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) 1977. 143 p., ill. Cat. no. 4. ISBN 0875870805.
  • Gonzalez-Palacios, Alvar and Steffi Röttgen with essays by Steffi Röttgen, Claudia Przyborowski; essays and new catalogue material translated by Alla Theodora Hall. The Art of Mosaics: Selections from the Gilbert Collection. Los Angeles (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) 1982. 224 p., ill. Cat. no. 4. ISBN 0875871097
  • Massinelli, Anna Maria with contributions by Jeanette Hanisee Gabriel. Hardstones: The Gilbert Collection. London: Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd. in association with The Gilbert Collection, 2000. 329 p., ill. Cat. no. 2, pp.32-35. ISBN 0856675105.
Other Numbers
  • MM 11 - Arthur Gilbert Number
  • m.77.1.15 - LACMA
Collection
Accession Number
LOAN:GILBERT.105:1-2008

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record createdJune 26, 2008
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