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out any trace of Michelangelo's influence. It is of its kind, so far as I know,
the only work that is so closely related to Florentine furniture of the time and
sort that it must either have been the work of a Florentine or made under
Florentine influence. Exactly this northern part of the Ancona March was from
the beginning of the Renaissance almost a domain of Florentine art.



We lack also sufficient support for the making of a reasonably trustworthy
picture of the disposition of Lombardy houses and of the single pieces of furni-*
ture from the period of the High Renaissance. The frightful devastation to
which this particular part of Italy was exposed at the end of the fifteenth cen-
tury and in the first decades of the sixteenth century, especially through the
invasions of the French and later under the domination of Spain, resulted in
thoroughly clearing out the older house furnishings. What is preserved in the
Museo Poldi, in the Museo del Castello and especially in the palace of the
Bagatti family in Milan, shows relationship with contemporary cabinet work of
Venice, and indeed did not remain uninfluenced by her art. The furniture with*
ivory inlay is generally characteristic; because it was constructed in the neigh-
borhood of Pavia it has been known as mobiii alia certosina. Whether it really
was at home here, or whether it was transplanted from Lombardy, is a question
that remains unanswered. The circumstance that in the transition of the four-
teenth to the fifteenth century the artist family, the Embriacchi, were working
on their own particular chests, mirrors, altars, etc., of ivory carving with inlaid
framework, especially for the Lombard rulers and people of rank, seems to
indicate Venice as the home of this particular intarsia art furniture. The fact
too, that in Near-Asia quite similar intarsia of a high finish was made, would
point to Venice, since until the sixteenth century she was most powerfully in-
fluenced by the Orient in all her industries.

The older pieces of this kind, indicated as Lombard intarsia furniture, go
back to the end of the fifteenth century. They are mainly chests (111. 115 and
116), Savonarola chairs (111. 118 and 119), small caskets and mirrors, more
rarely also writing cabinets (117). The decoration is generally in small geomet- •
rical designs which are devised with much taste and laid on as a flat ornamenta-
tion. In larger pieces, namely in the chests, simple naturalistic motives occas- *
ionally appear, such as bouquets and flowers in vases, but always in a fine
conventionalization. The furniture, to the advantage of the decoration, is al- •
ways simple in form and provided with very small and modest profile work,
so that the large smooth surface might offer an opportunity for bringing out
the decoration. This plainness and the strong drawing of the inlaid ornament
might lead easily to a too early dating of this work; a chair of the sort, which
must have originated toward the end of the Quattrocento, was mentioned in the
catalogue of the Gedon auction in Munich in 1884, as having made its appear-
ance at the end of the thirteenth century or the beginning of the fourteenth

In the western border provinces, Piedmont, Savoy, and Liguria, a
relation with France is plainly evident. In Piedmont and Savoy French-


Burgundian influence is unmistakable, as a quantity of good furni-
ture from this province in the admirable Museo Civico of Turin and in some
of the noted castles of Piedmont prove. That even up to the sixteenth century
the Gothic tradition held here, is shown in the vigorous French forms. We can
follow this best in the chests that alone are at hand in relatively large
numbers (111. 124). It is otherwise in Genoa and on the Riviera. Here we see
also in the Renaissance furniture a distinct relationship with the furniture of
the south of France, namely, with that which had Lyons for its centre of pro-
duction, though, it is true, this may be followed up only exceptionally until the
fifteenth century when, expressing in general the Gothic characteristics of
Liguria, it exhibits an elongated Gothic decoration. These pieces were little
considered and their origin rarely known or taken account of; they are found
in great numbers with the over-sumptuous Lyons furniture which the French
and English collectors have preserved in quantity in their palaces, though they
are generally inferior to these in richness and artistic finish of the decoration,
as in the variety and fantasy of the design. In consequence they are in general
designated as French, or when their Ligurian origin is assured, they are passed
off as imitations of the Lyons furniture. The relation seems to me to be just
the opposite: the Genoese furniture provided a model for that of Lyons; over
the Riviera the Renaissance in cabinet work pressed toward France and exer-
cised an appreciable influence over the development of this art in its southern

. Here in Genoa and on the neighboring littorale Renaissance furniture,
though almost without exception from an advanced period, is preserved in pro-
portionately greater quantity and of a greater variety than in the other western
provinces of Northern Italy. The pieces have indeed strayed out into other
countries and go now under strange names. The chests do not play the fore-
* most role, as in the rest of Italy; in their place appears the cabinet in two parts,
that elsewhere in Italy — as we have seen — was very seldom used as house furni-
ture. If, and how far, the introduction of these pieces from the North has
exercised an influence here, is at this time hard to decide, since we know so
little of the cabinet work of Lombardy, on which this industry, like Genoese
art in general, had been dependent since the Trecento. Netherland influences
rhat at the beginning of the Cinquecento made themselves felt in Genoese
painting, could not have been proportionately powerful in this direction, for
aside from the difficulty of transporting things of such relatively small worth,
the habits of life in the two countries differed too much.

• In the illustration we have a characteristic Ligurian cabinet, made in
Genoa, that is now in the Museum of Magdeburg, and another that is in the
Victoria and Albert Museum (111. 120 and 121). They consist, as a rule, of an
upper and an under part, of very nearly the same size, both having double
doors. The structure is simple and architectural; the decoration on the other
hand is very rich, but on account of its low relief is not obtrusive as it is in
most of the Lyons furniture. The doors are each decorated as separate sur-
faces; the framework takes the shape of pilasters, socles and mouldings, and is


conventionally decorated; the locks and handles are here provided with orna-
ment, mostly of a head with open mouth or something similar, and are toned.
These cabinets are quite related to the contemporary credenze, among which is
found the one illustrated, now in the possession of the dealer in antiques,
Stefano Bardini, in Florence (111. 122). The Ligurian tables are also distinc- •
tive and more nearly related to those of the French than the Italian. The two «
characteristic broad feet are as a rule bound together by a cross-piece that
serves at the same time as a base from which two slender columns arise; these
support the top. Between these pairs of pillars runs a small row of delicately
turned columns. A typical example of a Ligurian chair is shown in a Genoese
piece that, with the twelve chairs that belong with it, is found in private owner-
ship in Berlin (111. 123). They are distinguished for their rich iron work with
large gilded nails, and their perfect preservation. The wood is unusually
beautiful mahogany that was first brought to Italy at that time in Genoese
ships, but for a time spread little into general use.

I should attribute to Genoa the origin of a noteworthy chest shown at
Rome in 1885 in an exhibition of Roman furniture. It is quite distinctive, as
the sides, formerly always straight or bowed outward, have a strong inward
curve, like many of the sarcophagi. The base is very strong and high, the top
being, on the contrary, flat. The palmetto design and the festoons display the
soft full forms of the Ligurian furniture. This chest, originating in 1530, is
of walnut, partially gilded.



We may assume for Rome great luxury in house furnishings as in other
things, from trie fondness for art shown by a number of Popes in the Renais-
sance period, as well as from the great love of display and luxury among the
papal relatives and the rich clergy, who sought through the use of their col-
lected riches to increase as much as possible their fame and enjoyment during
their lifetime. This is confirmed for us by the records for which we are indebted
to the researches of E. Muntz, Bertolotti and others. Very little furniture is
preserved bearing the indications of a Roman derivation, though many Roman
pieces appear, of a date after about the second or third decade of the sixteenth
century; almost all, indeed, of only one fixed variety, and this, chests. How
the love of display among the higher clergy expressed itself in these is proved,
among other things, by the description of the outfit that Lucretia Borgia re-
ceived from her father, Pope Alexander VIII on the occasion of her marriage
with Duke Ercole of Ferrara. For the transport of the wedding effects in the
sumptuous chests, jewel caskets, etc., from Rome to Ferrara, a train of several
hundred mules was required.

If we do not include Raphael's tapestries, there is hardly a piece of the
old Vatican furniture or of that from other papal palaces left, or even known;
but a suggestion of the artistic finish of these pieces in the living-rooms and
the rooms of state, in the time of Julius II and Leo X, is given us by the
splendidly carved doors and window frames in the Stanze. For the making
of these rooms Raphael had called Giovanni Barile from Siena, while at the
same time the younger Luca della Robbia put the paving stones of the floor
in place, as they are yet preserved, though truly in a hardly recognizable state.

In this classic period even the earliest pieces approached that style of
1 furniture especially characteristic of Rome: that furniture that is embellished
with carving in high relief, in which the color of the wood is only lightly toned
and only rarely gilded here and there. They conform essentially with the Flor-
entine furniture, the work being executed for the most part by Florentine
cabinet makers or under the influence of Florentine architects and wood-carvers.
In Rome they held their individual character, being much less under the influ-
ence of Michelangelo than of Raphael. The high relief of the decoration on the
front and the two small sides of the chests has, in conception, composition and
modelling, the closest relationship with that found in the paintings of Giulio
Romano, Polidoro da Caravaggio and others of the Raphael school. Since in
the compositions chests even of the kinds that have been preserved, appear,
the most of them two or more times, it is probable that the design for them
can be traced back to such artists.

The compositions are almost exclusively borrowed from ancient and Roman


history or classical mythology. Most of them have invariably two rich reliefs
separated by armorial bearings; occasionally the front has several small com-
positions of one or two figures, separated by pilasters or caryatids. On the
smaller sides single figures, sea monsters, and the like, are generally found.
The arms are as a rule in the middle, held by two putti or flanked by a pair
•f nude figures representing chained warriors. The latter is repeated with
slight variations on a whole group of these chests. In a similar manner fettered
barbarians in rich garments are brought into the corners; these are borrowed
from Roman triumphal arches. Like these, many of the figures or groups
are copied more or less freely from antique statues that were found in Rome
at that time. The preference for Roman history and myth indicates Rome as
the place where the greater part of these chests originated and the armorial
bearings, where these have so far been determined, also confirms this opinion.

The Victoria and Albert Museum has the greatest number of such chests.
Around the sides, against the walls of the old Hall of the Raphael cartoons,
stand sumptuous chests of the kind, alternating with richly carved sgabelli that
in their perfect preservation, old gilding and fine bronze colored patina, have
an exceptionally good effect. The other large museums possess either one or a
few of these pieces. Two that belong together, of especial excellence and pres-
ervation, with the old partial gilding also, are in the Kaiser Friedrich-Museum
in Berlin, where as a decoration they ornament the hall, with Raphael's paint-
ings. One of these (111. 125) has in two parts, separated by armorial bearings,
a representation of the death of Niobe's children from the arrows of Apollo. A
somewhat later repetition, with a different middle piece, and unfortunately less
well preserved, has been taken out of the old Museum and put into the Kunstge-
werbe-museum. A considerable number of these chests is found in private
ownership in the palaces of England and France, especially in the houses of the
Rothschild family in Paris. The great Paris auctions of Renaissance art works,
as they were held by Fr. Spitzer, Baron Seillieres, and others, included many
such pieces.

When these chests stand against our walls they generally have a low, heavy
effect. This is because now they usually lack the substructure, which raised
them up very much and at the same time protected them. We refer for this
to the illustration of an old Florentine chest with the under piece that goes with
it; this is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum (111. 3).

The chests, in their vigorous forms, rich carving, and partial gilding, cor-
respond with the rest of the furniture used for the fitting up of the Roman
palaces of the High Renaissance. Sgabelli form the majority of sumptuous pieces
of this kind, of Florentine-Roman derivation, made especially for Roman fur-
nishings. Proportionately numerous are the carved bellows, still used as an
ornamental piece among the fittings of the fireplace. Among the museums the
Victoria and Albert Museum has again a quantity of these, and indeed unus-
ually splendid ones (compare 111. 77-79), the rest may be sought in the palaces
of England and France that are fitted up with Renaissance furnishings. Only a
few tables of a like character have been preserved in Rome; they have been,


almost without exception, sold outside the country (111. 127) ; among them a
large and splendid piece, of marble with bronze decoration, from the Palazzo
Massimi, the design of which is ascribed to Peruzzi. One of the most beautiful
pieces of the kind, shown in 111. 128, is in the Victoria and Albert Museum. An
unusually fine writing-cabinet which appeared in Stefano Bardini's sale in
London, 1902, gives an excellent idea of these pieces; according to the armorial
bearings it was made for Cardinal Farnese (Pope Paul III). What is true of
all the sumptuous pieces of this kind is noticeable here, that the side pieces,
profiles, and details, are not carefully worked out like the large sculptured piece
set in the front. The discriminating taste shown in the simple furniture at the
beginning of the Cinquecento and from the second half of the Quattrocento, is
seldom met with here. A writing-cabinet, similar in character, incidentally
suggests Florentine furniture (111. 130, compare page 17).

So far we have no reliable information as to who the artists were who de-
signed or carried out the work on this variety of furniture. That they were
natives of Florence seems, considering the character of the work, indubitable;
whether the pieces came out of the workshop of the younger Tasso, or from
that of Baccio d'Agnolo, or others mentioned by Vasari and in the records of
certain wood-carvers, is as yet impossible to decide. They have so uniform a
character that they could have been distributed only among a small group of
artists closely related with each other. Most easily recognized is the workshop
of an artist who by preference brought out children and childrens' heads, in
very robust forms. Since reliefs in Florentine sandstone, mostly with partial
gilding, exactly corresponding, come from Florence, this master is doubtless
a sculptor and a Florentine. That we must seek among these artists prominent
architects like Peruzzi, Antonio San Gallo and others, is indicated by the
numerous sketches for furniture that have been preserved, especially from the
Cinquecento (particularly in the collections of drawings in the Uffizi, the Vic-
toria and Albert Museum and others). In the High Renaissance the separation
between artist and craftsman, the designer and the artisan who carried out the
design, was in a certain degree complete, especially where there was a question
of handling very sumptuous and uniform decoration.

Research among the records has brought out testimony that in Naples and
Sicily also, a rich and various cabinet work flourished. The splendor loving court
of the Aragon rulers seems to have found particular pleasure in fitting up
palatial rooms with costly furniture rich in artistic expression. These princes
kept their art collections in expensively made cabinets. But specifically Nea-
politan furniture was, so far as I know, recognized first about the middle of
the High Renaissance. The few pieces of the kind are very similar to the
Roman pieces just described; they are richly provided with strong heavy pro-
file work and the deeply toned wood has a beautiful patina.

• In the course of the sixteenth century the political and public life of Italy
underwent a complete transformation, in that the dominions of small tyrants
were changed into principalities in the modern sense, and republics, aristo-
cratically ruled Venice in particular, vanished. In the place of the ruling


towns, on whose prosperity the development of the Renaissance depended, came
the princely courts, from that time determining the forms of life and affecting
also the furnishing of the houses. The new requirements to fit the different
circumstances, the demand for representation in splendor and luxury, made
themselves felt plainly also in the whole arrangement of the houses and in all
ine furnishings; while some furniture was put in the background or entirely
disappeared, other quite new pieces came to the front. The wall bench and the *
chest were displaced by furniture for seating of a different sort; the commode
came up as a new variety of furniture, quickly causing the chests to disappear;
the tables were more numerous and more various; the mirror became the im-
portant feature of the room, as, with a table underneath for a support, it had
the effect of a large superb piece, reflecting the furniture around it and
doubling the splendor of the room. Another novelty, the chandelier of crystal •
and glass that, hanging from the ceiling, often in large numbers and in the
richest settings, lighted the rooms, increasing their regal brilliancy, making
them shine in fantastic lights, was very different from the quiet, scarcely ade-
quate, lighting of the Renaissance period. The bed was relegated to a small
room and frequently occupied a very deep niche, the alccve. In short, modern
furniture was born in Italy, truly no longer through its own power but under
strong influence, especially from France. It is a way of furnishing that only
recently, through the demands of hygiene for light and air and through prac-
tical inventions, has been essentially changed.





Foreword . . . . . .6

I. Florence and Tuscany .... 7

II. Venice and the Mainland . . 27

III. Italy in the Northwest . ... 41

IV. Rome and Naples .... 44


Plate I.

1. Florentine Painted Cassone about 1410—1420. Bargello Museum, Florence.

2. Florentine Cassone about 1440. In a Private Collection.

"Hj.J,J ... „!...,, -• -

3. Tuscan Cassone with Gesso Work about 1440. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Plate II.

4. Tuscan Cassone with Gesso Work. Kunstgewerbe-Museum, Berlin.

- « -

5. Tuscan Cassone with Gesso Work. Kunstgewerbe-Museum, Berlin.

6. Florentine Cassone about 1440. Formerly in the Bardini Collection, Florence.

Plate III.

— — i M — — — — _ — - — - — ■ i~~ "

7. Florentine Cassone about 1450. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

8. Florentine Cassone with Intarsia Decoration about 1480. Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, Berlin.

Plate IV.

iaBMpjpjgBEFBjar~rH,— ; — '«iiii ttt —

i> ~ S35P?3'~iS5S=S3i§^ .


>: i).

9. Florentine Cassone about 1480. Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, Berlin.

10. Florentine Cassone of the "Strozzi Family" 1507.
Kunstgewerbe-Museum, Berlin.

Plate V.

.. ,

11. Florentine Cassone with Intarsia Decoration about 1905
Prince Liechtenstein Collection, Vienna.

h C^

12. Cassone of the "Albert Family" about 1530, Musee Andre, Paris.


Plate VI.

13. Tuscan Cassone about 1580. Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, Berlin.

14. Tuscan Cassone about 1575. Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, Berlin.

15. Tuscan Casket of the 15th Century.

Plate VII.


Florentine Jewel Casket about 1525. Kaiser -Friedrich-Museum, Berlin.


.■C^^VVV^IS.'.H 1 ^ >^

Florentine Stucco Casket with Pastiglia Decoration. Kunstgewerbe- Museum, Berlin.

Florentine Bench end of the 15th Century. Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, Berlin.

Plate VIII.

19. Florentine Bench about 1475. Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, Berlin.

Florentine Bench about 1550. Kaiser- Friedridi -Museum, Berlin.

21. Florentine Cassapanca with Inlaid Intarsia Decoration, E. Volpi Collection, Florence.

Plate IX.

Florentine Cassapanca. Bargello Museum, Florence.

Florentine Cassapanca. Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, Berlin.

Plate X.

Plate XI.

Florentine Cassapanca. Davanzati Palace, Florence.

Plate XII.

Florentine Room with Throne and Bed, High Renaissance Period.
From a Fresco by "Andrea del Sardo" at Florence.

Plate XIII.


Throne of "Filippo Strozzi." Baron Moritz Rothschild Collection, Paris.

Plate XIV.

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LUXilXTliU-fcLL fctt< L4 ttttttttttttfctfcfcjt

54VU.U U-U*UL U Oi.UU.Ui.UiU; U-UU^.U-U.U.U«UlU«ltUiU.UiUt«fcUJ.UiUilU«l««IIitJM»t010jUiO!UJlUIUrtlfl|-ll




Plate XIX.


Tuscan Folding Arm Chair.

Dr. A. Figdor Collection, Vienna.


Tuscan Folding Chair.

Kunstgewerbe-Museum, Berlin.

40. 41.

Northern Italian Leatlv - Covered Arm Chairs. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Plate XX.

42. Florentine Arm Chair Velvet Covering.

43. Small Florentine Chair about 1550.

44. Florentine Chair with cane Seat.
Kunstgewerbe-Museum, Berlin.

Plate XXI.

'MIMIHIimMlniiiii llllUL^l' l M.M.MJ.HM/n_iti|iliin.vv'':y.

Tuscan Table about 1530. In a Private Collection at Florence.

Florentine Marble Table about 1475.

Plate XXII.

47. Small Tuscan Table end of the 15th Century.

48. Florentine Table end of the 15th Century. Formerly at Florence.

Plate XXIII.


Tuscan Table end of the 15th Century. Dr. A. Figdor Collection, Vienna.


Tuscan Table about 1550. In a Private Collection.

Plate XXIV.


Florentine Table about 1550. Formerly at Florence.

Florentine Table about 1550. Kunstgewerbe-Museum, Berlin.

Plate XXV.

Florentine Table about 1550. In a Private American CoMection.


Florentine Table about 1540. Torregiani Palace.

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