Style Other / Ref.12976
Giuseppe MAGGIOLINI (1738 – 1814)(circle of), Remarkable pair of Neoclassical commodes with marquetry decoration depicting a “Departure for the hunt” and a “ Return from the hunt” beginning of the 19th century
Width: 40'' ½ 103cm
Height: 34'' ⅝ 88cm
Depth: 20'' ⅛ 51cm
Italy, early 19th century
Giuseppe Maggiolini, also called “the marquetry prince” is an end of the 18th century important Italian furniture maker, of which the important reputation is due to his furniture with inlaid wood decoration. Born in the Milanese and more precisely in Parabiago in 1738, he starts his apprenticeship very young with a carpenter before taking his independence circa 1760. Known for his big talent, he enters, eleven years after, in the service of the archduke Ferdinand of Austria, which brings him very quickly the favor of Lombard gentry and really starts his career. Obliged to stop his activity at the end of his life, it’s his son, Carlo-Francesco Maggiolini, as much talented as his father, that succeeds him.
The remarkable pair of commodes that we are presenting here is representative of the G. Maggiolini’s production. In a Neo classical style, they are inspired by French works with their sober lines typical of the Louis XVI style, while also offering a sophisticated and delicate marquetry decoration, especially on the facade of the two drawers.
For the inlaid decoration of these commodes, the furniture maker chose to represent characters in lemon wood with the hair and clothing styles of the second half of the 18th century, in gallant scenes, framed with triangles and chevrons friezes in cherry wood. Each background is divided in two parts, a floor reproduced as a trompe-l’oeil of cubes made with three different varieties of wood, rose wood, ebony and sycamore colored with tobacco ; and a background wall with large chevrons of plum wood - wood used for the majority of the commodes’ background. We find on each corner square roses. The feet mounts are adorned with a chevrons rose wood veneer and a cube with a rose in lemon wood on a Honduras rose wood background. The tapered feet are also adorned with a beech wood and a horn beam wood marquetry.
This inlaid decoration, of which it is important to note the dexterity of the realization and the care given to the details, expresses all the savoir-faire of its producer. We discover on the facade of one of the commodes, a departure for the hunt scene, while on the other it’s the return from the hunt. Furthermore, each commode has a curved decoration under their body with lemon wood marquetry of acanthus leaves and flowers of which the veins have been painted with ink. Gilt bronze medallions with the faces of Roman emperors come to adorn the facade marquetry, the one on the center is also a lock.
We notice some similarities with Maggiolini’s drawings for the preparation of his marquetry in the way of drawing the plants shapes. Especially in the way of making the acanthus branches with the leaves extremities more curved than sharped. This resemblance allows us to think that if Maggiolini has not making them, a furniture maker very closed to him has, maybe a student that he would have inspired.
The decoration of the “Departure for the hunt” is composed of two groups of characters. A first, on the right, is composed of two young men wearing guns accompanied with two dogs, ready to leave for hunting. Looking at the other group behind them, they wave them goodbye. The second group is composed of two young women et a young man. He’s on his knees on the front of one of the women, holding her hand to say goodbye in a more intimate way, while the other woman is greeting the group in front of her. She has a beauty spot on her cheek. This accessories made of black fabrics became a seduction instrument with a code depending on its position on the face of the Précieuses at the end of the 18th century. Thus, the one that the woman is wearing on her cheek means the Gallant and indicates that she accepts propositions.
It’s the same characters that we find on the decoration of the second commode, “Return from the hunt”. Two of the men are sat at a table, their guns resting on the chairs. They are turned toward the gallant who seems to be singing. The two young lovers are again together and hugging each other next to the rest of the group. At their feet, the dogs are laying and resting from their hunt while keeping an eye on the dead stag.
Like it’s very often the case on Maggiolini’s production the sides of the commodes are also decorated. In the same framing and disposition of the facades, the furniture maker has represented on each side ball gallant scenes figuring couples.
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