Neapolitan or Sicilian manufacturing (?)




Neapolitan or Sicilian manufacturing (?)




About 1610


Ivory, mother-of-pearl, and hardwood inlay


51 x 84 x 41 cm (with doors closed)






On Display

This elaborate cabinet is made of expensive materials – ivory and mother-of-pearl – imported from the East colonies under the control of the Spanish government during the seventeenth century. The exterior is decorated with mother-of-pearl arabesque foliage with birds and hunting figures, influenced by German engravings of the 1590s, and also very similar to the decorative motifs on pistols and rifles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The interior is characterised by a Doric triumphal-arches façade, whose architecture recalls cabinet engravings dated around 1600. Surrounding the façade, fourteen variously sized small drawers are faced with engraved ivory and flanked on each side by two folding panels, which are also richly decorated. The interior engravings depict scenes of a king and queen, which show a significant correlation with events told in the Book of Esther. The use of highly prized materials and the exquisite execution of the cabinet would indicate that its probable origin is either Naples, Sicily, or Madrid, where foreign craftsmen masterfully combined their skills with those of local artisans. Neapolitan cabinetmakers of the early seventeenth century were often influenced by imaginative decorations carved on cabinets that began to arrive in Europe from the Indo-Portuguese colonies. In late sixteenth-century Naples, among masters active in the production of inlaid cabinets in ebony and ivory, there was a cabinetmaker known by the name of Iacobo Fiamengo. Fiamengo was a craftsman from the region between Belgium and Holland, at the time under the Spanish rule of Philip II. He collaborated with the Neapolitan engraver Giovanni Battista De Curtis, and together they produced four documented cabinets, among the highest examples on the Italian scene. Although this cabinet is neither dated nor signed, the quality of its execution and the richness of this item brings it close to his sphere.

Neapolitan or Sicilian manufacturing (?) Cabinet About 1610 © Compton VerneyPhoto by Prudence Cuming Associates-Ltd

Cabinet About 1600 © Compton Verney

Cabinet About 1600 © Compton Verney

Neapolitan Cabinet About 1600 © Compton Verney

Neapolitan cabinet, open About 1600 © Compton Verney