Pair of chest of drawers with four drawers and a bedside table with door and drawer under the top. The furniture made of solid walnut is mainly veneered in striped walnut with inlays in various woods, not all identified, including maple, boxwood, stained maple, cherry, walnut and other exotic woods. On the front, the size of the drawers follows the arrangement of the decoration, therefore a small drawer under the band marks the score marked by the shelves inlaid with acanthus leaf placed on the edges of the uprights in relief. The other three drawers of the chest of drawers, see the larger central one to be able to accommodate the main part of the ornamental motif that decorates the large reserve in striped walnut on the front; it is a vase contained by two facing dolphins that hold with their jaws the floral festoon falling from the leafy spiral that comes to life from their tail, the vase is enriched with a floral composition and rests on a rocky fragment.
On the sides, a reserve like that of the front contains a flower vase contained between two leaves of leaves. In the same way, the bedside table has a flower vase held by leafy volutes on the door, a similar solution on the sides with a torch-shaped vase with a burning flame moved by the wind.
The quadripartite tops, also in striped walnut, have an almond-shaped reserve in the center with floral decorations that started inside with two fans and a central rose window. The feet are in the shape of a truncated pyramid.
Dimensions: 93 x 128,5 x 61 cm (bedside table 82 x 63,5 x 45 cm)
36,6 x 50,4 x 24 in (bedside table 32,3 x 25 x 17,7 in )
In May 1796, with the fall of the Habsburg government, a long period of difficulty began for the workshop of Giuseppe Maggiolini. The disappearance of the archducal orders was followed closely by the loss of the main private clients who, due to the war situation and the heavy taxes imposed by Napoleon, no longer commissioned the precious furniture from the famous inlayer. Only after 1804, when Milan prepares to be the capital of the kingdom of Italy and Maggiolini gets some important orders, will things improve for the shop. In this moment, although the taste had, in the meantime, changed in the direction of the martial Empire style, the shop could reorganize itself. A more massive production will begin, for some features even serial, where therefore creativity will find less space, especially in the forms, the drawings will be reused on more productions, while the executive quality of the furnishings will grow. Through a greater organization of the shop, as well as a mechanization of some processes, added to the experience gained by the shop manager but also by his son Francesco and the helpers, the quality of the product will improve. We thus have greater precision in the inlays and greater autonomy of the designs, but also a more accurate construction of the furniture.
The group of furnishings described here is part of this production, where, also due to the influence of the new Empire style that wants the furniture free from inlay, the designs are reduced in quantity and are concentrated in the center of the spaces. We no longer have the large frame with numerous reserves, each enriched by inlay typical of the end of the previous century, when Giocondo Albertolli was partly drawing and certainly influencing the production of the workshop. Now the spaces are widening, we have a memory of those works only in the almond of the tops, while the designs of the sides and front are suspended in the center of a striped walnut top.
The drawings used are all present in the Maggiolini Collection, now kept in the Sforzesco Castle in the Drawings Department and provide us with information on the era of furniture. In particular that of the front C148 attributed to Giuseppe Levati bears the inscriptions “Fac.te Comç Magio 1804” and “F.ta Comò D.na Teresa Crivelli”, in the upper part of the drawing there is also the study of the upper corner of a dresser very similar to the one made for those in question. The shelf inlaid on the nuts under the top is taken from drawing A 459, while the rose window on the shelves corresponds to B 818, which bears the inscription “N ° 6.1 / 2 1804 8bre Cop.ti Sciff.ni / Bianchi Dada / Pa Giulini”. On the sides, as well as on the front, of the bedside table there are vases with flowers and spirals of different inventions; in particular, the inlay on the front corresponds to sheet C 305, a drawing in pencil, pen and watercolor bearing several annotations: “Galardi and Luigi Castelli chest of drawers also / in the Secret Doors Cas.li / 22 9.b. 1800 / For the two Scifoni Venini Jul.io 1803 Fac.te ”,“ to be repeated in the Visconti Ciceri Ag.to 1804 chest of drawers / faciate sciffoni Bianchi Dada 8.br. ”. On the sides of the bedside table, on the other hand, a torch-shaped vase with a burning flame moved by the wind is inlaid (drawing B 499 with the inscription “Tavolino Cic.ri e Benz.i 1804 / Fianchi Sciff.i Bianchi Dada 8br”).
As can be clearly deduced from the writings present on the drawings (all belonging to the Maggiolini Collection, kept in the Drawings Department of the Castello Sforzesco in Milan), Giuseppe Maggiolini did not completely create the furnishings by hand, but, for the most part, he supervised the execution through the help of the son and the workers, giving indications and taking care of the quality of the manufacturing; probably his intervention was foreseen in the most delicate parts of the work. The attention he devoted to even the smallest part of the project is significant; the wealth of information and annotations that can be found on his sheets are precious to the studies: starting from marking the colors with which the petals of the floral inlays were to be made, to the specification of the order for which the designs were used. It does not seem risky to us to assume that these furnishings were made for the Bianchi D’Adda family. The notes written on the drawings repeatedly refer to the production made in October 1804 for the Bianchi D’Adda. Last but not least, the target positions indicated on the drawings correspond precisely to the creation of the inlays on the furniture.
Another important fact to add to our information is the presence until a few years ago in the Royal Palace (still documented in an old palace catalog) and then in Villa Carlotta (Giuseppe Beretti and Enrico Colle then, publican) of a pair of chest of drawers today dispersed with inlaid top in a very similar way to ours were it not for small variations. An authentic rarity are the inlaid tops for Maggiolini who by far preferred to cover his dressers with marble tops, more frequently in Bardiglio gray.
– Enrico Colle, Fernando Mazzocca, Il Palazzo Reale di Milano, ed. Fondazione Cariplo, 2001;
– Enrico Colle, Il mobile neoclassico in Italia, ed. Electa 2005;
– Giuseppe Beretti, Alvar Gonzàlez Palacios, Giuseppe Maggiolini. Catalogo ragionato dei disegni, ed. Inlimine, 2014.
– Enrico Sala, Maggiolini & Co., ed. Anticonline, 2020.
All the articles are in possession of the free export permit.