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men who worked away from their homes.

Our modern cabinet is similar to the writing cabinet. This had its rise in
the course of the Quattrocento, as facility in writing became universal. It was
designed partly to supply the need for something in which to preserve letters
and other papers, as well as to hold the writing utensils, and partly that all
these things might be conveniently at hand. The form of this old Italian writ-
ing cabinet, which is evidently Florentine, has remained practically unchanged
even to our time. Of moderate size, almost twice as high as long, it had an
upper and a lower part. The under part in exceptional cases and in earlier
times was of table form, but was commonly designed as a cabinet with two
doors. On it rested the slightly projecting upper part which was of about
equal height, and harbored behind a folding leaf, or plate, the numerous little
articles for facilitating the work of writing, etc. This leaf when open served
as a writing table. The earliest pieces of the kind, known to me, are mostly
decorated with rich and tasteful intarsia; in the High Renaissance, on the other
hand, the cabinet maker had quite enough to do to satisfy the lust for carving
on the writing cabinet; the estimation in which it was held by the giver of the
commission corresponded. They easily did too much here, even of what was good,
as in that singular, and at one time very much prized, variety of cabinet, of
deep-toned and very effective walnut, with pillar-like groups of small figures
built one over the other on the sides of the cabinet, and with similarly treated
moulding decorated with figures (111. 61). Even when the best of the cabinets,
in construction and tone, and in their proportions and profile, have a fine strong
effect, in such productions the understanding the good Florentine cabinet mak-
ers had of how to treat the body, does not as a rule come out. My recollection
of a pair of such writing cabinets in the Hermitage at St. Petersburg (from the
Basilewski collection) is that they were unusually beautiful. The embellish-
ment, although at times too rich in ornament, deserves a first place among these
rigure decorations (111. 60).

From paintings and wood-engravings we see that the writing table as a
rule had a small slanting top piece that in many cases was removable. In con-
struction, which is determined by its object, it shows hardly any change during
the entire Renaissance; in the fifteenth century it was generally ornamented
with intarsia, but in the beginning of the High Renaissance we find with that,
or instead of it, decoration through carving. One of the rarely preserved


pieces, in the possession of Otto Beit in London (compare 111. 130), is adorned
on the sides with Nereids in high relief, that betray the hand of the skilful
Florentine wood carvers who in 1520 produced the richly carved chests.

The high two-piece cabinet seems to have come more especially from up-
per Italy, where it really was adopted from the north. The few examples yet
existing of the Gothic cabinet show here a close relationship with contempor-
ary Tyrol furniture. Yet more similar are the few cabinets of the High Renais-
sance that have come down to us (111. 62 and 63). The higher upper part is
built upon a low under section ; both have double doors and the characteristic
architectural members and ornaments of the Cinquecento. The two pieces
illustrated here come from a Florentine art shop, but they originated in Brescia.

A one-storied high cabinet now in the Krefeld K. Wilhelm-Museum, the
rich decoration indicating a period shortly after the middle of the Cinquecento,
corresponds somewhat with out modern wardrobe. But neither this nor the
two section caoinet seems really to have been adopted in Italy. They put away
their clothing in the chests, and for the food, they did not use the cupboard,
as in the North, but the credenza instead.

The bookcase, the libreria, though also rare, appears occasionally in the •
Florentine dwelling-house. Usually it had, as in the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries, several partitions, after the fashion of the wall cupboard. Such a
bookcase, about six meters in width, divided into several sections, which makes
it easy to move about, is owned by Prince Johann Liechtenstein, in Eisgrub
(111. 67). It is of very good proportion and simply but tastefully decorated in
High Renaissance forms that indicate a period about the middle of the six-
teenth century. A small example of this style in the Kaiser Friedrich-Muscum .
in Berlin has, like the Liechtenstein bookcase, the lower part closed with two
doors, the upper part open, with a wire screen over it; it is delicately orna-
mented and gilded here and there. How rich and splendid these bookcases
occasionally were in the Quatrocento is proved by the information we have that
Lionello d'Este in 1434 purchased, on account of its artistic form, a libreria
that had been made for Paolo Giunigi, in Lucca, twenty years earlier.

Among the occasional furniture of the Florentine room there were some
small pieces, notably pedestals for busts, the wall mirror, and the clothes
rack. They came out first, so far as we know, in the second half of the fifteenth
century. The busts of the Quattrocento, usually cut off smooth under the
shoulders or under the bust, had their place on the moulding of the chimney or
the doors. In the High Renaissance first, following Roman examples, they
cut the bust only once, and placed it on a small pedestal which, on a higher
stand, was put in the particular place in the room assigned to it. These stands,
sgabelloni, were in the sixteenth century mostly carved out of wood and were
formed of two narrow slanting boards, slightly diminishing at the top, that
terminated below in lion feet. They are effectively decorated in more or less
low relief and are held together by a flat shelf-like top. In all but the upper
section it follows almost exactly the form of the sgabello, from which it has bor-
rowed the name. Our illustrations (68-71) present a pair of effective examples


of such Florentine sgabelloni from the middle of the sixteenth century; the
one with simple vigorous carving and deep in tone, the other decorated richly
in low relief and lighter in tone, being gilded here and there. In the Cinque-
cento, a vigorously carved mask formerly constituted the middle piece of the
decoration (111. 71). More rare are the painted stands, of which 111. 70 shows
a striking example, that originated in Rome, but is now in the Kaiser Friedrich-

The hand-glass, the most indispensible article for the satisfaction of human
vanity, and for that reason made by the oldest of civilized peoples, often richly
and artistically worked out, was throughout the Middle Ages a favorite
piece. The wall-mirror, on the other hand, like the rarer stand-mirror (an
extraordinarily beautiful example of which, in the Victoria and Albert Museum,
we return to: 111. 76), seems to have appeared first toward the end of the
Middle Ages. The polished metal could, however, only be used in small pieces,
and after the invention of the glass this also had in the beginning a very
small surface, so that both at a certain distance and in a light not particularly
strong, are undistinguishable, differing little from each other. The convex
glass mirror, that in the North made its appearance at the beginning of the
fifteenth century, known to all lovers of art, through Jan van Eyck's double
portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini ar.d his wife, was more suited to compress-
ing into a small compass a picturesque view of the room than it was to reflect
human features; it was quite unsuitable for use in the toilet.
• In Italy, so far as I know, wall-mirrors came in during the fifteenth
century with the improvement of the setting and polish of the larger plates,
in Florence and Venice they appeared almost simultaneously. The frames of
the Florentine mirrors, very nearly related to the picture frames and like them
in the richness and tastefulness of their composition, as in their perfection of
style, are yet characteristically worked out. The frame enclosing the valuable
picture is only designed to close it up and at the same time to mount it; it was
proportionately small in the Renaissance, especially in Florence. The plate of
the mirror, generally small (about 20-30 centimeters in height, the width being
a little less) and not without its own charm, is also dazzling. It was on that
account usually hidden by a painted sliding cover; so the mirror gets its artist-
ic worth principally from the frame, that is proportionately large and as richly
decorated as possible. How costly and how valued was the possession of the
mirror at this time is evidenced by the fact that no other piece of furniture is
so uniformly fine in its proportions, so delicate in its profile work, so choice
and so finished in the drawing and carrying out of the ornamentation, as the
mirror of the sixteenth century.

A considerable number of these mirrors, some excellent specimens of the
kind, are found in the collections of Paris and in single examples in the mus-
eums, notably in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Of these illustrated here,
one (111. 74) is characterized as a work dating from the beginning of the High
Renaissance. It shows, not only in the style, with interchanging high and low
relief and strong and weak ornament, but in the classic working out of the


same, that the wood-carvers, in their art hardly inferior to the contemporary
sculptors, constructed such pieces. The unusual and at times peculiar motives,
quite freely worked out, that slip into the decoration of the top, especially when
it is light and hence particularly rich, betray the same imagination and senti-
ment that was disclosed in the earliest work of the pioneer masters in the plas-
tic art of the High Renaissance, pre-eminent among them, Andrea Sansovino.
All the coiled serpent forms, and naked putti whose limbs come out of flaming
vases and whose hands hold flames, every upright shield, every serpent or fish
form with human masks, string course of rolled up volutes, and similar inven-
tions, that followed a preference for heavy allegorical representations under
the influence of the discovery at that time of ancient Grotesques in Rome — all
these, in a close resemblance, we find in Andrea Sansovino's altar niche in S.
Spirito in Florence, in his monuments in S. Maria del Popolo, Aracu'li, and
other places. They present a singular mixture of immature, fantastic motives
in exaggerated, unconventional forms of decoration, into which a wild Baroque
element seems to slip; but through the predominance of beautiful, effective
contours, and through the modest subjection of the heterogeneous details, in
the whole effect they mostly escape the eye. It is a characteristic sign of the
soundness of the craft of the artistic element at this time that these hetero-
geneous motives were quickly rejected or only used in a conventionalized form.

The vigorous, over-laden forms of that part of the Renaissance before con-
sidered, under the influence of Michelangelo, appeared in the small wall-mirrors
with as advantageous an effect as those of an earlier time, and become, through
the fine toned color of the wood, the gilding of the higher parts and the deep
bronze colored tone due to time, so increased in importance that is compre-
hensible that these pieces have for decades been bought up with great partiality
by the most difficult and the richest of collectors. The mirror in our illustra-
tion, formerly in the possession of the Kaiserin Friedrich (111. 75), is a good
example; it still has its old cover in the form of a picture in the style of Vasari.
On a similar simple mirror (111. 73) this cover is of wood with intarsia.

The chimney-piece held its important place during the Renaissance and •
consequently often reached in the palaces and villas a rich and artistic perfec-
tion; its fitting up, however, remained, in Florence, very simple. While in
Venice the andirons (alari) were rich constructions of bronze terminating in a
figure, those of Florence, as in the Middle Ages, were commonly of iron and
comparatively simple in form. Yet they are beautiful in construction and often
of a very fine finish in a restrained style, as are also the tongs, shovels and
other fireplace fittings, that are handled in the same way. Unusual luxury in*
carving was expended on the bellows, the decoration following very closely the
character of the carved chests in the style of the younger San Gallo, of the
Tassi, of Baccio d'Agnolo, and others. Especially beautiful examples are shown
in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum (111. 77 and 79).

The clothes rack, attaceapanno, or capellinaro, was also very artistically
set up by the Florentines. Many remain from the sixteenth century; from the
fifteenth century I know only one, that was formerly in the possession of


Stefano Bardini; judging by the armorial bearings on it, it belonged originally
to Duke Federico of Urbino. A board arranged for hanging, with four turned
clothes hooks affixed to it, is framed with very much stretched consoles on the
sides, that support the vigorous moulding and rest on a small ledge which
serves as a lower finish. The decoration is of simple intarsia in which the
great Montelfeltre coat-of-arms that occupies the middle space is worked out
in detail. The capellinari from the Cinquecento are in construction essentially
the same, only they are lower and generally broader, enabling them to hold a
greater number of delicately turned wooden pegs for the reception of clothes
and hats, as our illustrations (80 and 81) show. The framing corresponds sub-
stantially with contemporaneous picture frames, and like these, it is occasion-
ally relieved with gold. Some lac dyes that are from time to time brought into
the armorial bearings increase the richness of these characteristic pieces that on
account of the taste of the Florentine artist-craftsmen are particularly notable
(111. 81). A distinctive type of furniture — the reading ' desk, leggio, found
a use at times even in the living-rooms.

We must also bring out another piece from among the house furnishings

• of the Renaissance: the bed, letto, lettiere, or lettuccio, as it was in its old
large form commonly called. It belongs among the most important of the fur-
nishings of the Renaissance and has been correspondingly handled. The
bed of a married couple of high rank stood in the wife's room, the beds of the'
married sons and daughters, in the rooms assigned to them. In the wife's room
the extraordinarily capacious bed was a real "mobile immobile" that, exactly

• as in the Middle Ages, extended chest-like to the floor and had a high tread-
board or a low bench running around it, that was fitted up as a chest. All

• these things made this feature so important that the effect of the apartment of
the mistress of the house was determined by the bed, as was that of the recep-

. tion room by the throne or the cassapanca. While from the Trecento a simple
painted bedstead, rich with figure decorations, is preserved in the Ospedale del
Ceppo in Pistoja (dated 1337), for the later Quattrocento the bed in the Palazzo
Davanzati (from Citta di Castello — sold in America?) offers almost the only
fully preserved and very characteristic example. Contemporaneous pictures
and illustrations present us with rich material for clearing up the history
of beds in Tuscany during the Renaissance. I recall a pair of the best known
frescoes in Florence; for the Quattrocento, Ghirlandajo's "Birth of John the
Baptist", in the Novella; for the Early Cinquecento, Andrea del Sarto's famous
composition with the same subject, in the fore-court of the Annunziata (com-

j pare 111. 26). In keeping with its size and immobility the bed was, even in the
advanced High Renaissance, simple and mostly straight lined in form and
smooth in decoration; later this was restricted in general to a few intarsia orna-
ments, in the Cinquecento to modest decoration in carving. The baldachino
also, that in Venice, for example, was seldom lacking, with its sumptuous fit-
tings over the head of the bed, seems to have made its first appearance in
Florence in the course of the sixteenth century. It was then customarily sup-
ported on four pillars, and a painting adorned the cover.


Occasionally, however, in the later time, extraordinarily sumptuous beds
were constructed, especially for princely personages. These were sometimes
inlaid with costly woods, ivory, and even with precious metals, sometimes
carved richly or set off with small pictures by eminent painters. Such pieces
came into the palace with the outfit of the bride and were then its principal
show piece, judging by the description of such (as house furniture quite com-
mon) bridal beds by Vasari and others of the time. Mentioning a bed of the
sort, that Pier Francesco Borgherini commissioned Baccio d'Agnolo to carve
and Andrea del Sarto, Pontormo, Granacci and Bacchiacca to paint, Vasari
relates a story about the wife of its possessor, Margherita Acciajuoli, that in
the absence of her husband she energetically refused the high offer made by the
agent of Francis I of France for this sumptuous bed, for the king.

A small couch on short turned feet, resembling the modern chaise longue,
is one of the same type, transmitted through the Rococo; but in its fittings,
with mattress, under-bed, pillows and sheets, it is exactly like a bed. This ap-
peared somewhat after the beginning of the sixteenth century. Its plain form
was designed to promote comfort and its fitting up was entirely an affair of
the upholsterers. Not one remaining piece is known to me, yet we see it quite
often in paintings by Giulio, Romano and Titian, and in Marc Antonio prints,
etc. With the bed the cradle also came out in the Renaissance. The examples
in the Kunstgewerbe-Museen in Cologne and Berlin give a good idea of their
artistic conformation.

The walls in the rooms of Florentine palaces and houses, as in upper Tus^
cany, were at the time of the Renaissance as a rule smooth, and decorated with*
different kinds of flat designs, such as came to light when the old houses of
the Mercato Vecchio were torn down, and as they appear in the restoration of
the Palazzo Davanzati at Florence. We find panelling only very exceptionally, •
while walls hung with stuffs were equally rare. The walls of the sleeping rooms
were occasionally covered with hangings of small animals' skins pieced together,
though only in winter, for warmth. Only the wealthiest could in the sixteenth*
century enjoy the luxury of a tapestry wall covering (hung only for entertain-
ments), as French tapestries and those from the Netherlands were very costly.
Even among the Medici possessions in the fifteenth century these were included
only as rarities, the inventories show. Oftener the Gobelins were used for
backs to the benches, spallieri, and as curtains to the doors, usciali; they
were for the most part decorated simply with small plants and animals, with
coats-of-arms woven in. The art of tapestry weaving spread into Italy in 1430, -
through weavers from Flanders who were first called to Venice and Mantua.
Soon after the middle of the fifteenth century tapestry weavers from the Neth-
erlands, who had settled in Ferrara, came for a time to Florence from Siena,
where they had worked for six years, but during the whole Quattrocento the
work carried out here was insignificent and small in amount. Later the revolu-
tion in Florence prevented any development of the Gobelin industry. With the
idea of founding a Gobelin factory, Cosimo, in 1545, summoned the Nether-
landers Nicolas Karcher and Jan Rost from Ferrara. Thanks to the interest of


this prince the factory was quickly brought into a flourishing state; what they
made at that time is far superior to contemporaneous productions in other parts
of Italy, and is in design as well as in color, quite original. The distinctive tap-
estry character is better preserved in these than in the picture types of Flanders
Gobelins of the fifteenth and particularly the sixteenth centuries. The wall tap-
estries that are preserved in the Galleria degli Arazzi of the Archjuological
Museum in Florence and those in foreign countries, that were executed by
Karcher from cartoons by Bacchiacca, Bronzino and Fr. Salviati, offer an in-
teresting retrospective view of wall decoration, especially in Florence. The
decoration is at its best when it consists of ornament; such work is fantastic
and delicate in construction, light and soft, with its colors on a golden ground,
showing technique at times of the highest perfection. These, especially of the
two Bacchiacca rooms, that are among the most sumptuous and finished, equally,
on the whole, anything in tapestry work that has been created. Related, but *J

• even lighter, is the drawing of the decorative paint and plaster ornament of /
the ceiling, and the similar painted glass in the windows. Lastly, Oriental

•carpets, possessed in greater or less number by every prominent Florentine
house after the fifteenth century, complete the color effect.

In spite of their large ar.d vigorous forms and the considerable space they
occupied, certain pieces of furniture in the Florentine rooms of the Renaissance
had a tendency rather to enhance the spacious effect and the architectural pro-
portions of the room; this was because of their straight monumental form and
. the fact that they were suited to their position against the wall. The rich
' and colorful composition and equipment of the floors, ceilings and walls, that

• in their light hues and delicate drawing strengthened the large and roomy ef-

• feet, gave to the furniture a remarkably distinguished and magnificent appear-
. ance. The painted walls, occasionally with panelling decorated in gay colored
i intarsia, or covered with textile, the vaulted blue tinted ceilings of the ground
' floor rooms, the painted and gilded wood ceilings, and floor of mosarc in col-

• ored stone or in Robbia tiles, were during the whole fifteenth century in keep-

• ing with the furniture, inlaid as it was with different woods, and gilded, painted,

• or fitted up in gorgeous colored stuffs. In the sixteenth century when the
walls were covered with the restful Gobelins and later with textile fabrics,
when the ceilings were constructed of brown wood lighted up with gold, only
rarely painted, or the white vaulting had a light decoration of painted plaster,
and when the floor showed a simple pattern of mat colored stone flags, the
wood of the furniture retained its own color, only made a little deeper by toning,
and occasionally lighted up with fine toned gilding. For this reason it was
enlivened with strong profile work and projections, as well as through carv-
ing, and made, with the rich colors of the cushioning, pillows, covers and car-
pets, an effective contrast.

We can with difficulty form a conception of the individuality and variety
of the richness and the sumptuosity of a Florentine palace or a Florentine
villa, or of the repose and harmony of the whole, because of the lack of archi-
tectural and color sense from which our time still suffers in spite of ostensible


progress; for such rooms, in their perfection, unfortunately no longer exist.
Complete old rooms and house Fittings, like the Swiss rooms that the Swiss
Landesmuseum brings out in such considerable numbers, have not been pre-
served from the same period in Italy, nor were they rescued in time by the
museums. The few attempts to reconstruct such rooms in the museums have
generally been made in modern apartments spoiled by unfortunate propor
lions and decorations, and it has usually been done by throwing together
smaller and more or less ruined pieces from different parts of Italy, belonging
to different periods, in a careless and overloaded arrangement, if not in the
manner of a shop. Far happier is the design of the Palazzo Davanzati at Flor
ence, with truly antique decorations and real untouched furniture, mostly Flor-
entine oi the fifteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth century.
The truest picture, however, that we can have is that obtained from the repre
sentations of these things in the frescos, paintings and illustrations, even if
they are generally treated as accessories and are too incomplete.

Almost until the close of the High Renaissance Siena maintained its in-
dependence against its old rival, Florence, in the art of furniture making, in

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