Louis XVI chest of drawers, Turin, last quarter of the 18th century

Chest of drawers with three drawers

Turin, last quarter of the 18th century


Antique chest of drawers with three drawers. The first lower drawer under the top follows the motif of the bands with Greek reserves, the other two have two reserves of marquetterie such as those of the sides and a central reserve with the veneer arranged in a radial pattern.
The four protruding pillars of which the two fronts arranged at 45 ° have bois de rose reserves contained in small frames that also mark the drawers. The woods used for the inlays are rosewood for the dark part, bois de rose, walnut and maple for the threads and the two drawer openings; also the slender and turned feet in solid walnut contain toppo inlays.

The interiors of the drawers are executed with the precision of a cabinetmaker, choosing and marrying the walnut boards and with small dovetail joints arranged at 45 ° degrees on the bottom. The top is in selected bardiglio di Valdieri marble. The frame of the cabinet is in solid walnut except for the poplar bottom.


Dimensions: 91 x 122 x 56 cm ( 35,8 x 48 x 22 in )

Historical-stylistic analysis:

As for cabinet making, Turin in the eighteenth century was strongly influenced by the figure of Pietro Piffetti (1701-1777), considered together with Charles Buolle to be the greatest cabinetmaker of all time.
In his latest creations he will be able to almost definitively abandon the lines of “Juvarrian memory” that characterized him and also the rich materials such as mother-of-pearl, ivory, tortoiseshell and various metals, he will create, as a prototype for his heirs, simpler furniture and to the “new fashion” beyond the Alps. The French influence will in fact always be very present in the Savoy capital.

If, as far as the carving works are concerned, Turin will benefit from another exceptional craftsman, Bonzanico, for the cabinet-making of the last decades of the eighteenth century the legacy of Piffetti will be taken over by several cabinet makers, capable of great executive mastery but without the inventive quality of the master. Among these we remember Giovanni Galletti (1735-1819) and Giuseppe Viglione (1748-1823). Our antique chest of drawers is undoubtedly more approachable to the known works of the second.

If the construction quality denounces the very important client, the marquetterie cabinet-making motifs and the use of Greek frets are characteristic features of the well-known furniture of the Viglione.

A piece of furniture, which I was lucky enough to analyze from life, and which has many similarities, due to the very accurate execution, the same precious materials and the same marble, is the half-moon chest of drawers, preserved in Turin on the second noble floor of Royal Palace; also the turned and inlaid feet seem to join the two pieces of furniture to the same authorship.

The presence of the Bardiglio di Valdieri marble top is also particularly interesting.
The quarries of “Bardiglio di Valdieri” were royal property, in fact crosses of Savoy and Royal Crowns that established the property since 13 August 1743 have still been found on the boulders.
We can therefore confidently affirm that the Louis XVI chest of drawers analyzed here was made in the last quarter of the eighteenth century in Turin city, if not for the royal family for an aristocracy close to it, while having no signatures it is not possible to give with certainty the production at the Viglione workshop, even if it certainly seems to us the most probable among the well-known workshops.


– Roberto Antonetto, Il mobile piemontese nel Settecento, Ed. Allemandi 2010

– Articolo di Mario Catella, I marmi del Piemonte , Rivista Atti e rassegna tecnica della società degli ingenieri e degli architetti in Torino, anno 5-n. 3- Marzo 1951

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