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Cabinet

  • Place of origin:

    Naples (Made)

  • Date:

    about 1600 (Made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Fiamengo, Iacopo (Made)
    Fontana, Giovanni Battista, born 1524 - died 1587 (engraved)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carcase mostly of pine, veneered with ebony and rosewood, and engraved ivory

  • Museum number:

    W.36:1, 2-1981

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

After annexing Portugal in 1580, Spain gained a monopoly of trade in Indian ivory and ebony, the most luxurious furniture-making materials then available. By the 1590s cabinets with ebony veneers and engraved ivory plaques were the height of fashion in Spain. The best examples were made in Italy at Naples, the most important of Spain's territories in Europe, by cabinet-makers like Iacopo Fiamengo (active 1594-1602), who probably made this piece. This cabinet has a large number of drawers and compartments (77 altogether within the main body), some ingeniously hidden and used for concealing small valuables and documents. This is a very early example of a feature shared with cabinets from Flanders (today in northern Belgium), a region from which Iacopo Fiamengo (literally 'Fleming') almost certainly originated.

Physical description

Rectangular cabinet with two doors and raised top containing cupboards and numerous drawers, veneered in ebony, with ivory stringing and engraved ivory plaques mostly telling the story of Romulus and Remus, derived from a series of engravings published by Giovanni Battista Fontana (1524 - 1587) in 1573 and dedicated to Arch Duke Ferdinand of Austria. The Metamorphoses images on the 10 drawers on the removeable central unit are (at least partially) derived from La Métamorphose d'Ovide figurée (Lyon 1557) with illustrations by Bernard Solomon.

Design
Rectangular cabinet with two doors and raised top section. The top section with a lifting panel revealing an undecorated well (17cm deep) fitted for five plain softwood drawers at the left sides (1 missing), five plain softwood drawers at the right side (2 missing) and sixteen plain softwood drawers along the front (all missing), ie 7 drawers survive of 26. The drawers with cord handles. The top-most drawer without a pull (presumably to conceal it), and secured through the back by a removeable(?) iron nail with quatrefoil head on the outside of the cornice. The crudeness with which this hole has been cut suggests that it may be a modification, perhaps necessary after the removal of the top-most box from the top section.

The two main doors (without a lock) open onto an interior of architectural form in four main tiers:
1) top tier (a series of tabernacles with pediment and volutes) with three large drawers separated by two sliding covers, each concealing 3 plain ebony-fronted drawers. Behind each bank of 3 drawers, accessed from within (the central drawer removed), are 3 secret, small plain drawers with cord pulls.
2) second frieze tier with five shallow drawers.
3) main tier (three large tabernacles, each flanked by a pair of columns), with three hinged doors, enclosing, in the centre a removeable unit of 10 drawers (one of which with a double front appears to be two), and on either side four ebony-fronted drawers with ivory stud handles and ivory stringing, above a fifth, similar drawer concealed behind a base frontage held by a metal pin. Behind each of the two, removeable columns at the far right and left are five small ebony-fronted drawers. Behind each of the two, fixed, narrow niches between the main three tabernacles, and set laterally, is a bank of twelve drawers; this is accessed via sliding panels to the mid-section, once the removeable unit has been withdrawn.
4) bottom pedestal tier with three large concealed drawers.

In total the cabinet was designed with seventy-seven drawers in the main body, and twenty-six in the top section (of which nineteen are missing).

The back is rosewood veneered with ivory stringing arranged in rectangular geometric patterns. The cabinet rests on four turned ebony(?) bun feet, which appear to be 20th century in date.

Construction
The carcase wood is mostly pine and cedar, with beech used in the blocks below the six columns and the fronts of the drawers. The drawers are finely constructed using dovetails, with the bottoms glued in place.

Iconographic design
The top of the cabinet is step-moulded with a deep cornice, below which are twelve medallions of the Twelve Caesars, starting off with Julius Caesar and ending with Domitian. The sides of the cabinet have two larger ivory plaques in the centre, representing episodes from the Sabine War, flanked with three smaller plaques on each side, the middle ones round and the upper and lower ones square, depicting the twelve months. Each door on the outside has one large ivory plaque in the centre, set in an inlaid aediculed frame of engraved ivory, and a series of smaller engraved ivory plaques at the sides, arranged like those at the sides of the cabinet. They depict various battle scenes presumably from the legend of Romulus and Remus, although these are the only large plaques without any inscriptions. All the plaques on both sides of each door are arranged in the same way as the sides, and they recount the Sabine War.

The doors open onto an interior horizontally divided into three main tiers containing large drawers and concealing series of smaller ones, and vertically divided into three broad and two narrow sections articulated with engraved ivory Corinthian columns, inscribed Fortitudo (courage), Iustitia (Justice), Spes (Hope), Prudentia (Foresight), Temperantia (Moderation), and Cognitio Dei Knowing God. The three larger doors in the central tier are decorated with ivory plaques telling of Romulus' capture of Caenina, Romulus' hanging a trophy of weapons on a sacred oak on the Capitoline Hill in Rome, and Romulus being carried up to the Heavens, while carrying out a review on the field of Mars. The smaller plaques depict Apollo and other deities, grotesques and earlier episodes in the lives of Romulus and Remus.

Inside the central door is a small removable cabinet with ten drawers (though appearing to have eleven) with ivory stud handles, and ebony and engraved ivory fronts, depicting various myths such as Nesus and Deianeira and Pan and Syrinx. To the sides of this small cabinet are ebony panels with broad, engraved ivory stringing, arranged in rectangular geometrical patterns. These slide forward to reveal twelve ebony and engraved ivory drawers with ivory stud handles on each side, decorated with hunting scenes.

Modifications
The top section reduced in height after 1880, with the loss of a lockable box about 10cm high, with engraved medallions and plaques.
A lockplate on the right door, and bolts in the left door removed after 1880, and the holes patched. The ivory plaque in this position, and present in 1981 was believed by Museum curators to be a modern addition (missing 4/12/1989, visible in photos c2006, missing 2009).
The urns of turned ivory on the inside of both doors added after 1880.
Evidence on cabinet sides of removal of one or more handles.
Support batten added on both sides of the cabinet, with modifications to one small drawer on both sides (concealed behind the columns at far right and far left).
At bottom of main tier (interior), the locking devices to the two frontages concealing a drawer now missing.
At top tier, the sliding covers rebuilt.
At second frieze tier, drawer at left repaired.

Drawer sizes (HWD cm)
Top section, internal, at ends: 3.4 x 24.8 x 6.6 (x2); 4.1 x 11.9 x 11.6 (x4); 6.6 x 12 x 17.7 (x4)
Top section, internal, along front: 3.9 x 13 x 7 (x4); 4.1 x 13 x 12 (x4); 6.7 x 13 x 18 (x4);
Internal, top tier: right and left drawers 13.7 x 20.5 x 34.8cm; two groups of three small drawers 13.7 x 22.6 x 35.2; central drawer 13.7 x 22.6 x 35.2; 6 secret plain drawers hidden behind the two banks of concealed drawers (size tbc)
Internal, second frieze tier: right and left outer drawers 2.8 x 21.7 x 35.1; right and left inner drawers 2.8 x 11.8 x 34.7; central drawer 2.8 x 24.7 x 34.1
Internal, main tier: two columns of five small drawers at right and left 5.5 x 4.1 x 29.2
two columns of four drawers behind left and right doors, 5.1 x 15.7 x 29.1; concealed drawer below 5.8 x 15.6 x 33.3
central mini-cabinet: 4.9 x 9.3 x 12.7 (x2), 4.8 x 6.1 x 12.8 (x3), 1.3 x 6.1 x 12.8 (x2), 4.7 x 6.1 x 12.8 (x2), 4.9 x 19.4 x 12.6 (single drawer with false double front)
two banks of 12 drawers concealed behind sliding panels to the left and right of the moveable central mini-cabinet: 5.3 x 11.4 x 11.7 (x2); 5.3 x 9.6 x 11.7 (x3), 5.2 x 9 x 11.7 (x4), 11.2 x 9.6 x 11.7 (x1), 4.7 x 14 x 11.7 (x2)

Place of Origin

Naples (Made)

Date

about 1600 (Made)

Artist/maker

Fiamengo, Iacopo (Made)
Fontana, Giovanni Battista, born 1524 - died 1587 (engraved)

Materials and Techniques

Carcase mostly of pine, veneered with ebony and rosewood, and engraved ivory

Marks and inscriptions

JULIUS CAESAR.AUG.IMP.R I
Julius Caesar Augustus Emperor [No.] I
The inscriptions on the 12 medallions placed round the top of the sides and front (above the twin doors) are of the Twelve Caesars (or 'Emperors' although strictly speaking, Julius Caesar was not an emperor) from Julius Caesar (102 - 44 B.C.) to Domitian ( 52 - 96 A.D.), whose lives were recounted in Suetonius' Vitae Duodecim Caesarum (c. 120 A.D.).

OCTAVIUS. AUG. IMP.R. II
Octavius Augustus Emperor [No.] II

TIBERIUS.AUG. IMP.R III
Tiberius Augustus Emperor [No.] III

GAIUS. AUG. IMP.R. IIII
Caius [Calligula] Augustus Emperor [No.]

CLAUDIUS. AUG. IMP.R V
Claudius Augustus Emperor [No.] V

NERO. AUG. IMP.R VI
Nero Augustus Emperor [No.] VI

GALBA. AUG. IMP.R VII
Galba Augustus Emperor [No.] VII

OTHO. AUG. IMP.R VIII
Otho Augustus Emperor [No.] VIII

VITELLIO [sic] AUG. IMP.R IX
Vitellius Augustus Emperor [No.] IX

VESPASIANUS. AUG. IMP.R X
Vespasianus Augustus Emperor [No.] X

TITUS. AUG. IMP.R XI
Titus Augustus Emperor [No.] XI

DOMITIANUS. AUG. IMPR IIX [sic]
Domitian Augustus Emperor [No.] XII

Genaro
January
January to June are depicted in plaques on the left side of the cabinet. The names of the month differ from standard Italian and may possibly be Neapolitan dialect of the 16th century.

Febraro
February

Marzo
March

Aprilio
April

Magio
May

Giugno
June

Luglio
July
The ivory plaques representing July to December are on the right side of the cabinet. Again, the names of the month differ from standard Italian and may possibly be Neapolitan dialect of the 16th century.

Agusto [sic]
August

Settembro [sic]
September

Ottobre
October

Novembro [sic]
November

Decembro [sic]
December

Tarpeia intra missis sabinis orum obruitur magno scelere avaritie exempl.
Tarpeia is rushed upon amidst the Sabines sent [into attack], an example of the great crime of greed.
This inscription is on the upper part of the plaque placed in the centre of the right side of the cabinet.

Romulus pro recuperando capitolio cum sabinis pugnas hostio hostilio interempto fugientes suos eremto scuto iouis opem.
Romulus so as to recover the Capitoline hill fights skirmishes with the Sabines and after Hostius Hostilius had fallen he calls for the help of Juppiter [to stop?] his men from fleeing after his shield has been taken.
This inscription is on the lower part of the plaque placed in the centre of the right side of the cabinet.

victis grais et in cul.. translati remani in ci ...
[the inscription on the plaque is too fragmentary to make sense of but may relate to 'VICTIS GRVSTVMENIS ET IN VRBEM TRANSLATIS ROMANI IN EORUM CIVITATEM DEDVSTI' - the description accompanying an engraving showing the Romans Entering the City of the Crustumerians, pl.18 from the series The Story of Romulus and Remus by Giambattista Fontana (1575)
This inscription is on the upper part of the plaque placed in the centre of the left side of the cabinet.

Tatius sabinorum rex spu[r]ii tarpei filiam precio corrumpit ut arcem et capitol una cum patria proderet.
Tatius the king of the Sabines corrupted the daughter of Spurius Tarpeius so that she might betray the citadel and capitol together with her country.
This inscription is on the upper part of the plaque placed in the centre of the left side of the cabinet.

Precante Hersilia coniuge pax Sabinis atque nobis data.
With the prayers of Hersilia wife [of Hostus Hostilius], peace is granted to the Sabines and us [i.e. Rome].
The plaque with this inscription is in the top left corner of the inside of the left door.

Sabine mulieris bello sopito pacem Romanos afines [sic] conciliant.
The war of the Sabine women has died down and their neighbours advise the Romans to make peace.
The plaque with this inscription is in the top right corner of the inside of the left door.

Legibus urbi datis duodecim stipatores eligit gentumque patres constituit qui senatores posta dicti
After diving laws to the city he choses twelve crowd-leaders [?] and sets up fathers of the tribes who are later called senators.
The plaque with this inscription placed in the centre of the inside of the left door.

Fratribus pani lupergalia [sic] celebrantibus remus a latronibus
While the the brothers are celebrating the Lupercalian festival, Remus is [attacked?] by robbers.
The plaque with this inscription is in the bottom left corner of the inside of the left door.

Romulus delectis equitum ac peditum centuriis disciplinam instaurat.
Romuls choses groups of 100 men as cavalry and infantry and renews discipline.
The plaque with this inscription is in the bottom right corner of the inside of the left door.

Amulius erepto fratre numitor albae regno filium eius.
After seizing his brother Numitor, Amulius [gives?] his son to the kingdom of Alba.
The plaque with this inscription is in the top left corner of the inside of the right door.

Educta urbe herculi ritu ab evandro litat Romulus
After leaving the city Romulus obtains favourable omnens from Evander with a sacrifice to Hercules.
The plaque with this inscription is in the top right corner of the inside of the right door.

Sublato fratre Romulus initia urbis locateamque a sue nomine appellat Romam.
Once his brother is removed, Romulus establishes the origins and foundations and calls the city 'Rome' after his own name.
The plaque with this inscription placed in the centre of the inside of the right door.

Fidenates ob incrementa Roma invidia moti armis.
The inhabitants of Fidinae are moved to arms through jealousy of the expansion of Rome.
The plaque with this inscription is in the bottom left corner of the inside of the right door.

Occiso Tatio Sabinorum rege solus Romulus.
After the killing of Tatius, king of the Sabines Romulus is alone.
The plaque with this inscription is in the bottom right corner of the inside of the left door.

Romulus et Remus sono mandate a butare al tebro [sic]
Romulus and Remus are sent to be plunged into the Tiber.
The plaque with this inscription is in the top left hand corner of the front of the cabinet with its doors open. The inscription is written in a mixture of Latin and Italian.

Romulo et Remolo [sic] amazono leoni et altri fieri.
Romulus and Remus [kill?] theAmazon lion and other beasts.
The plaque with this inscription is in the top right hand corner of the front of the cabinet with its doors open.

Romulus victoria usus Ceninam primo impetu captam imperio adt
Romulus takes advantage of his victory and after capturing Cenina in the first attack adds it to his empire.
The plaque with this inscription is placed on the lefthand door of the central tier of the front of the cabinet (when opened up).

Victor Romam rediens acronis spolia in capitolio iouis feretrio a sacra quercu suspendit Romulus
On returning to Rome as victor, Romulus hangs the spoils of Acron on Juppiter's bier from a sacred oak on the Capitol.
The plaque with this inscription is placed on the central door of the central tier of the front of the cabinet (when opened up).

Exercitum lustrans Romulus subita tempestate in coellum raptus divinis honoris a suis colitur.
While reviewing the troops, Romulus is snatched up by a sudden storm into the heavens and worshipped by his people with divine honours.
The plaque with this inscription is placed on the right hand door of the central tier of the front of the cabinet (when opened up).

Romulus armata suorum manu fratrem repetens ac iniurias prosecutus albae Amulium in suo palatio obtruncat
Romulus with an armed guard of supporters seeks out his brother and avenging the wrongs of Alba kills Amulius in his own palace.
The plaque with this inscription is placed in the far left corner of the bottom tier of the front of the cabinet (with its doors open).

Amulio caeso Numitor populo arma in Romulo mouente pacato albae regno restituitur.
With Amulius killed, and the people up in arms against Romulus, Numitoris is restored, once the kingdom of Alba is pacified.
The plaque with this inscription is placed imediately to the left of the central plaque in the bottom tier of the front of the cabinet (with its doors open).

Antemnates qui arma sumserunt proeligati eorumque civitas debelata.
The Atemnates who took up arms have been defeated and their city subdued.
The plaque with this inscription is placed in the centre of the bottom tier of the front of the cabinet (with its doors open).

Fratres de urbis initio disordes agrariis capiendis item dirimunt
At the begining of the city, the brothers divide the boudaries again by taking fields..
The plaque with this inscription is placed on the near right of the central plaque in the front of the cabinet (with its doors open).

Orto ex augurio disidio fratres ad arma nersiis remus ceditur.
After a dispute has arisen over the augury, the brothers take up arms agaisnt the nersii and Remus is surrendered.
The plaque with this inscription is placed in the far right corner of the bottom tier of the front of the cabinet (with its doors open).

FORTITUDO
BRAVERY
A virtue is enscribed on aach of the the six engraved ivory columns, which articulate the front of the cabinet, with the doors open. The sequence runs from left to right.

IUSTITIA
Justice

SPES
HOPE

PRUDENTIA
Foresight

TEMPERANTIA
Self-Control

COGNITIO DEI
Recognition of God.

Dimensions

Height: 980 mm, Width: 1052 mm with doors closed, Width: 1090 mm with doors open, Depth: 517 mm

Object history note

This cabinet was exhibited at the IVa Esposizione Nazionale de Belle Arte in Turin in 1880 and the 'Objects for a Wunderkammer', 10th June - 31st July 1981, before being acquired by the V & A. Some time between 1880 and 1981 the more ornate top to this cabinet (visible in photographs c1880) was reduced in size.

Historical significance
This cabinet is neither signed nor dated, unlike similar ebony and ivory examples in other public collections. Nevertheless, it is more sophisticated in shape and design than the box-like ebony and ivory escritorios fitted with drawers in a simple framework, more readily associated with Spain. It is a fine example of a distinctive type of furniture, made in significant quantities from about 1590 if not a little earlier, as exotic materials like ebony and ivory became more widely available. These surviving pieces indicate the skill of the cabinetmaker's craft, the virtuosity of his joinery and inlay, and the levels of sophistication of specialist ivory-engravers he employed. The borrowing of ideas from Giovanni Battista Fontana's engravings of the story of Romulus and Remus (1573) or hunting scenes included in Venationis piscationis et avcupii typi (1582) indicate how popular and widely used printed engravings were in Europe at this time. Although this cabinet is unlikely to have been a royal commission, King Philip II of Spain identified himself with King Romulus of Ancient Rome, the main decorative theme.

Attribution
The cabinet is attributed as probably by Iacopo Fiamengo (active 1594-1602) on the basis of close stylistic and technical similarities to other cabinets bearing engraved plaques signed by Giovanni Battista de Curtis (a Neapolitan engraver), who is known to have signed a contract in Naples with a cabinet-maker (scrittorista) called Iacopo Fiamengo in 1596 to engrave scenes from the Old Testament and from Ovid on two ivory cabinets. Fiamengo commissioned plaques from other ivory engravers in Naples c1594-6, and had a German apprentice Corrado Mayer in 1596, and an Italian, Natale Cassese (12 years old) in 1602. The name Iacopo Fiamengo would suggest that the craftsman was a Fleming with a name difficult for Neapolitans to pronounce, and it was at about this time, that German and Flemish cabinetmakers began to dominate the cabinetmaking trade. The various drawers ingeniously hidden in this object are a mark of the skill for which they were particularly famed.

In the catalogue of the Colngahi exhibition (from which the cabinet was purchased by the V&A) A.González-Palacios attributed the engraving to Giovanni Battista de Curtis on the basis of a comparison between the central, internal panel with Romulus hanging a trophy of weapons on a sacred oak on the Capitoline Hill in Rome (and inscribed), and a panel with the same scene and inscription, signed by de Curtis, on a similar cabinet in the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg. Jervis and Baarsen however rejected this attribution on the basis that the engraved style was different, 'less precise and more lively.'

Analogous cabinets
For a summary, see Jervis and Baarsen.

Historical context note

This type of furniture originated in Spain, where it was known as an escritorio (literally a writing desk). In Naples, one of her overseas possessions, a craftsman like Iacopo Fiamengo, who very likely made this piece, was referred to in documents as a scrittorista (or writing-desk maker). Cabinets from Augsburg were often made to store collections of curiosities, both natural and man-made, and were embellished with ebony veneers and silver mounts. The abundance of architectural ornament and engraved ivory plaques clearly indicate that this cabinet was also made for display and swagger. However, the number of ingeniously hidden compartments indicate that it was also used for storing confidential documents and small valuables rather than curiosities for the owner to pull out from an easily accessible drawer and show off to a like-minded visitor.

The combination of both ebony and ivory had long been considered luxurious if not decadent (viz. the ebony and ivory furniture associated with the court of Henri III of France and mentioned in the satire, L' Isle des Hermaphrodites , published in1605)). Nevertheless the number of surviving items from Naples veneered with ebony and engraved ivory would suggest that they were made for a more general market and not just as princely commissions. Both these materials became more widespread, particularly in Spain's European possessions, following her annexing of Portugal between 1580 and 1640, and gaining access to the ebony and ivory trade, which was centred in Lisbon and now in Seville as well. Ebony and Ivory cabinets feature in the 1598 inventory if Philip II of Spain and the 1616 and 1617 inventories of the Duke of Llerma. This item could have been made for the Spanish market, although it is more elaborate and architectural than the more simple cube-shaped cabinets associated with that country.

Descriptive line

Ebony veneered cabinet, with ivory stringing and engraved ivory plaques

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

A.González-Palacios: 'Giovanni Batista de Curtis, Iacopo Fiamingo e lo stipo manierista napoletano', Antologia di Belli Arti (May, 1978), no. 6, pp. 136 - 48.
Dieter Altfer: 'Ein neapolitanisher Kabinettschrank des Giacomo Fiammingo', Pantheon, XXXVII (April/ June 1979), pp. 135 - 41.
Simon Jervis and Reinier Baarsen: 'An Ebony and Ivory Cabinet', V & A Album 4 (1985), pp. 48 - 56.
Paz Aguiló Alonso: 'La Exaltación de un reino, Nápoles y el mobilario de lujo a la vuelta del siglo XVI', Arquivo Español de Arte, Vol. LXV (1992), pp. 179 - 198.
'Objects for a Wundekammer', exhibition catalogue; Colnaghi's, London, June-July 1981, cat. no. 117.
Elizabeth Miller and Hilary Young, eds., The Arts of Living. Europe 1600-1815. V&A Publishing, 2015. ISBN: 978 1 85177 807 2, illustrated p. 110.
Miller, Elizabeth, 'The Making of the Cabinet Part I: Samuel Quiccheberg's "Exemplary Objects and Exceptional Images", Luxury, vol.4, issues 2 and 3, pp. 179-199, illus. p.183.

Labels and date

CABINET
ITALIAN (Naples); about 1600
Ebony and engraved ivory
This cabinet can be attributed to the workshop of Giacomo Fiammingo, a Flemish cabinet-maker who was active in Naples from at least 1594. Its top has been slightly cut down since it was shown in Turin in 1880, but it remains one of the finest surviving Neapolitan ebony and ivory cabinets, many of which seem to have been made for export to Spain. The engraved plaques represent the life of Romulus, after Giovanni Battista Fontane, the twelve Ceasars, and other subjects, but there seems to be no calculated iconographical scheme. The cabinet contains seventy-seven drawers. [pre July 2001]
63-1.1
Cabinet
About 1600
Probably by Iacopo Fiamengo (active 1594-1602)

The cabinet was made in Naples but the
ebony and ivory probably came from
India. Naples was ruled by the Spanish,
who gained a monopoly in trading these
luxury materials when they took over
Portugal in 1580. By the 1590s cabinets
like this were the height of fashion in
Spain. The best ones were made in Naples
by cabinet-makers like Iacopo Fiamengo
(the 'Fleming'). Behind the columns and
mouldings of this example are 77 drawers,
useful for valuables or secret documents.

Italy, Naples
Veneers of ebony,
rosewood and
engraved ivory on
a carcase of softwoods
and other woods

Museum no. W.36-1981

63-1.1 [ ]
The range of subject matter engraved on
the cabinet suggests there is no unified
scheme or message. The columns depict
female figures symbolising the Virtues.
These two, identified by their Latin names
Prudentia and Temperantia, represent good
sense and moderation.


63-1.1 [2006AJ6729 - cut outs of the 3 central 'portrait' plaques]
With the cabinet open, the three large
plaques in the centre show episodes
from the story of Romulus and Remus,
the legendary founders of Rome. They
are copied from engravings published
in 1573 by Giovanni Battista Fontana.

63-1.1 [2006AJ6722]
Behind the door in the centre is a small
removable cabinet with eleven drawers.
These are engraved with scenes from
classical myths, including Nessus and
Deianeira, and Pan and Syrinx.

63-1.1[2006AJ6723]
Hidden behind a sliding panel, to the
left of the removable cabinet, are twelve
more drawers decorated with plaques
showing hunting scenes.

63-1.1[the cabinet closed, 2006AJ6728]
When closed, the external doors of the
cabinet display battle scenes. The sides
show more scenes from the legend of
Romulus and Remus, surrounded by
plaques depicting the activities related to
the twelve months of the year. Running
around the top are roundels with the
heads of the Twelve Caesars.

63 - 1.1 strip.indd 1 03/06/2010 16:52 [June 2010]

Production Note

Although unsigned, this work is similar to a cabinet with ivory plaques decorated with a Mappa Mundi, signed by Iacopo de Curtis and dated 1597 in the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg. Although the Mappa Mundi engravings are of higher quality than those on the V & A cabinet, de Curtis is known to have signed at least two contracts in 1596 to supply engraved ivory plaques to Iacopo Fiamengo, described as a scrittorista or writing-desk maker. (See references). The illustrations are derived from a series of engravings on the story of Romulus and Remus, executed by Giovanni Battista Fontana, for Archduke Ferdinand of Austria in 1573.

Materials

Pine; Cedar; Beech; Ebony; Ivory

Techniques

Joining; Veneering; Engraving

Subjects depicted

Emperors; Battle

Categories

Furniture; Containers; Medieval and renaissance

Production Type

Unique

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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