Painted chest of drawers

Bergamo, late 17th century


Chest of drawers formed by three drawers of which the first fake has the opening front which thanks to the opening of the half top gives access to a cabinet made up of six drawers. The surface of the drawers, as well as the two large rectangular reserves of the sides and the uprights of the front, are covered in painted sheep paper.

The painting imitates inlay motifs simulating threads and reserves, on the front of the drawers is painted a decoration with baroque scrolls, with lambrequins, pendants and reserves intertwined with wild strawberries with fruits and flowers; on the internal drawers from a mixtilinear reserve there are volutes with two strawberry flowers; the sides, in addition to the typical reserves, have painted roses.

The chest of drawers is made of walnut for the external parts with ebonized moldings, while the interior is made of poplar and fir wood. Original are the vents and knobs as well as the wrought iron locks and handles. On the front the supports are carved and ebonized with a double shelf.

Dimensions: 107.5 x 156 x 66 cm

Historical-stylistic analysis:

The quality of the production of inlaid furnishings in the Bergamo area during the seventeenth century is known to collectors and studios, who see in the brothers Caniana and Rovelli only the best-known exponents among the workshops of the time. There is a lesser known and rarer to find production of furnishings painted with the same taste as those made with inlay in those years. They are pieces of furniture that belong to the same period and constructive and decorative modality, but instead of being inlaid they are painted, sometimes to imitate a decoration of flowers and ribbons as in this case, other times this decoration is accompanied by reserves with painted landscapes.

There are examples published by Clelia Alberici, a chest of drawers with drawers painted in landscapes has cantilever feet decorated similarly to the one described here, while another chest of drawers which belonged to the Antiquity Luigi Ongaro, has the same feet as the other. , but otherwise it is very similar to the one under consideration. Also in this case the first drawer can be folded down and inside there are painted drawers, the same central knobs and scrolls with flowers and wild strawberries.

The making of the three appears to be by the same hand. A pair of corner cabinets and a chest of drawers from the same production are preserved in the Castello Sforzesco. Among those known to the studies this seems to be the best preserved and, excluding the one painted in landscapes, the richest due to the presence of the decoration also on the uprights and sides. The intertwining of the scrolls is of a full Baroque style on the period and places the dating of the furniture at the end of the seventeenth century or at the beginning of the following one at the latest.

Reference bibliography:

– Clelia Alberici, Il mobile lombardo, ed. Gorlich 1969;

– Enrico Colle, Museo d’Arti Applicate, ed. Electa 1996.

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