Cabinet

1704-1705 (made)
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Gold, Silver and Mosaics, Room 73, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This extraordinary clock cabinet was made in the Grand Ducal workshops in Florence for the daughter of Grand Duke Cosimo III, Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici, who was married to the Elector Palatine, Johann Wilhelm von der Pfalz. When the elector died, Anna returned to Florence. She was the last of the Medici to live in the Pitti Palace. She left all the Medici treasures to the Florentine state, provided that nothing was ever removed from Florence.

The cabinet was not amongst the objects taken back to Florence by the Electress. It was made by two of the greatest artists of the time: Leonard van der Vinne and Giovanni Battista Foggini. The elaborate pietre dure design derives from Foggini's sketches. Among its elegant details was the use of chalcedony to represent pearls - one of the ways in which Florentine workers showed their skill in making hardstone mosaics in the 17th century.

The top half and central mosaic below predate the cabinet's enlargement, probably in the 19th century. Hittorff's clock movement has replaced an earlier English movement by Ignatius Huggeford. The cabinet was later acquired for Dorchester House, Park Lane, London.

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
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 5 parts.

  • Cabinet
  • Base
  • Key
  • Pendulum
  • Clock Movement
Materials and Techniques
Clock movement, pietre dure, mother-of-pearl, gilt-bronze, ebonised wood, ebony and brass.
Brief Description
Florentine court cabinet and clock. Pietre dure, ebony, ebonised wood, gilt bronze, brass, mother of pearl, clock movement. Upper section Giovanni Battista Foggini, Grand Ducal workshops, Florence, 1704-05; clock movement Johannes Hittorff, Bonn, 1704; lower section ca. 1860 (central panel in lower section ca. 1700).
Physical Description
Cabinet of ebonised wood with a projecting middle section and a high, moulded plinth. The facade has three doors with gilt bronze grotesque mounts. The upper cabinet is of ebony with pietre dure panels and includes a clock with a lapis lazuli dial mounted on a pietre dure grotesque face. It is of architectural form with elaborate carved volutes and columns. The interior is lined with silk and embroidered with the initials of Anna Maria, Electress Palatine.
Dimensions
  • Diameter: 78.7cm
  • Height: 76.2cm
Marks and Inscriptions
'AMEP' (for Anna Maria Electress Palatine) embroidered in gold thread and surmounted by the coronet of the palatinate on the silk lining inside the clock cabinet
Gallery Label
  • Mosaic cabinet and clock Upper section and central panel below: 1700–05 Lower section: about 1860 Giovanni Battista Foggini made this clock cabinet for Anna-Maria Luisa de’ Medici (1667–1743), wife of the Elector Palatine. The panel set in the base (a later addition) includes chalcedony to represent pearls. This was one of the ways in which Florentine pietre dure workers showed their skill in making hardstone mosaics in the 17th century. Cabinet: Florence, Italy; upper section Grand Ducal Workshops Giovanni Battista Foggini (1652–1725) Clock: Bonn, Germany; Johannes Hittorff (1757–1836) Pietre dure (hardstone mosaic), ebony, gilded bronze, brass, mother-of-pearl and ebonised wood Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.74:1, 2-2008(16/11/2016)
  • Mosaic cabinet and clock Upper section and central panel below: 1700-5 Foggini made this clock cabinet for Anna-Maria Luisa de' Medici (1667-1743), wife of the Elector Palatine. Among its elegant details in pietre dure was the use chalcedony to represent pearls, one of the ways in which the Florentine workers showed their skill in making hardstone mosaics in the 17th century. The top half and central mosaic below predate the cabinet's enlargement, probably in the 19th century. Hittorff's clock movement has replaced an earlier English movement by Ignatius Huggeford. The cabinet was later acquired for Dorchester House, Park Lane, London Cabinet: Italy, Florence: upper section Grand Ducal Workshops, Giovanni Battista Foggini (1652-1725) Clock: Germany, Bonn; Johannes Hittorff (1757-1836) Pietre dure (hardstone mosaic), ebony, gilded bronze, brass, mother-of-pearl and ebonised wood Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.74:1,2-2008(2009)
Credit line
The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Object history
Provenance: Anna Maria Luisa, Electress Palatine, Düsseldorf. Robert Staynor Holford. Sir George Lindsay Holford, Dorchester House, England. Sale, Christie's London, lot 81, 13-14 July 1927. Petite Musée, Montreal, Canada, 1974.



Historical significance: The upper cabinet is the work of Leonardo van der Vinne (fl.1662-1713) and Giovanni Battista Foggini (1652-1725). The use of pietre dure in relief is typical of the Grand Ducal workshops under Foggini. His designs for similar work are contained in his journal of sketches preserved in Florence.



The lower plinth was probably made for Robert Staynor Holford (1808-92) who bought the clock cabinet for display at his palatial London home, Dorchester House, Park Lane, which was designed by Lewis Vulliamy (1791-1871) based on the Villa Farnesina in Rome and built between 1857 and 1859. His collection included important Italian paintings, furniture and works of art.



The lower plinth incorporates a panel which dates from about 1700 and incorporates the representation of a pearl necklace - a tromp l'oeil motif produced from the mid-17th century by the Florentine workshops. The art critic Filippo Baldinucci described a table made in 1658 for Cardinal Antonio Barberini (1608-71) citing 'the pearl necklace, so realistic that it deceives the eye and the hand too of anyone who touches it'.
Historical context
It is probable that the clock cabinet (the upper section) was made in 1704-05 as a present from Cosimo III de' Medici to his daughter Anna Maria Luisa (1667-1743) who had married the Elector Palatine, Johann Wilhelm von der Pfalz (r. 1690-1716), in 1691.



Anna Maria Luisa returned to Florence after her husband's death where she enjoyed the Medici family collections.
Production
Upper section 1704-05; central panel on lower section ca. 1700; lower section ca. 1860.
Subjects depicted
Summary
This extraordinary clock cabinet was made in the Grand Ducal workshops in Florence for the daughter of Grand Duke Cosimo III, Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici, who was married to the Elector Palatine, Johann Wilhelm von der Pfalz. When the elector died, Anna returned to Florence. She was the last of the Medici to live in the Pitti Palace. She left all the Medici treasures to the Florentine state, provided that nothing was ever removed from Florence.



The cabinet was not amongst the objects taken back to Florence by the Electress. It was made by two of the greatest artists of the time: Leonard van der Vinne and Giovanni Battista Foggini. The elaborate pietre dure design derives from Foggini's sketches. Among its elegant details was the use of chalcedony to represent pearls - one of the ways in which Florentine workers showed their skill in making hardstone mosaics in the 17th century.



The top half and central mosaic below predate the cabinet's enlargement, probably in the 19th century. Hittorff's clock movement has replaced an earlier English movement by Ignatius Huggeford. The cabinet was later acquired for Dorchester House, Park Lane, London.



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
  • 'Two Collections Donated to Los Angeles Museum', American Horologist and Jeweler 44, no. 4, Denver, Colorado, 1975, pp. 44-45.
  • Gonzalez-Palacios, Alvar. 'Taccuino delle Pietre Dure: Attorno al Foggini', Antologia di Belle Arti. Rome, March 1977, 1, no 1, figs. 1,3,4.
  • 'Los Angeles County Museum Receives Gift of Silver and Mosaic Collection'. Lapidary Journal. April 1977, 31, no. 1. pp. 198-201.
  • Hagans, O. R. 'In the Spotlight'. Horological Times, 1, no. 5, Cincinnati, Ohio, May 1977, p. 31.
  • Wilson, Janet. 'Collecting Mosaics, Piece by Piece'. Realities, no. 11, Pennsylvania, May/June 1980, p. 100.
  • 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. nos. 7, 8. ISBN 0875871097
  • Irmas, Deborah. 'Pieces of a Lost Art: The Dazzling, Puzzling Gilbert Mosaics'. Almanac 18, no. 4. Franklin Center, Pennsylvania, September/October 1986, pp. 13-21.
  • Six, Mickey. 'Toveren mit Stenen'. Cachet. Tijdschrift voor kunstliefhebbers. Hilversum, Netherlands, May 2004, no.27, pp. 25-29.
  • Casciu, Stefano, La principessa saggia: l'eredità di Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici, elettrice palatina, Livorno: Sillabe, 2006
  • 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. 10, pp. 51-55. ISBN 0856675105.
  • Schroder, Timothy, ed. The Gilbert Collection at the V&A. London (V&A Publishing) 2009, p. 69, plate 51. ISBN9781851775934
Other Numbers
  • MM 137 - Arthur Gilbert Number
  • SG 189 - Arthur Gilbert Number
  • GPAF
Collection
Accession Number
LOAN:GILBERT.74:1 to 4-2008

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record createdJune 26, 2008
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