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last quarter of the 18th Century

Neoclassical Florence

Counter-top or caminiera mirror, richly and finely carved in linden wood and gilded.

The main rectangular frame is made by a frame scribbled with a ribbon motif on the back and with beads on the inside; over the scrawl there is an all-round carved fragile braiding between a ribbon and a floral garland, almost a embroidery.

On the upper part of the frame is placed a medallion that surrounds with a oak wreath the profile of Diana; two floral festoons depart from a tied ribbon and join up to two gallas placed at the corners of the frame.

Going down (the sides of the frame) we find two unusual large double-order festoons richly carved with leaves and flowers among which there are several roses; over these festoons are leaned two rose windows with two incense burner pots with flame. These two side-frames are shaped with two wings that lean on two lions; the carved lions are accommodated in a cradle of leaves and lied serene with a sphere between their paws. The support curve of the animals suggests their original placement in a boiserie and not into the two nine-teeth-century gilded base that now come with it.

The mirrors are made with mercury, the leaf gilding creates with shiny and matte a light and shade effect; this effect is highlighted in the metal with engraving process that makes the rear surface rough and opaque.

Linden wood have been used for the constructive and carved part while fir wood have been used for the bottoms that protect the mirrors.

Dimensions: 117x168x9 cm
Caminiera neoclassica
Caminiera neoclassica

Inspect the mirror

Historical stylistic analysis

The modernization work promoted by the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo (Florence, 1765) will lead to abandon of Tuscan late baroque taste in favor of the more modern neoclassicism, inspired by the Roman villas and by the finding of the Neapolitan excavation that were conquering and fascinating the whole Europe.

The choice of the Grand Duke to entrust to the young Giocondo Albertolli the ornamentation works of the palaces will turn out decisive; the modernity and the innovation of his works will be the first set of samples from which the new neoclassical taste will take inspiration.

The same Pietro Leopoldo will suggest to his brother Ferdinando to engage Albertolli in Milan where he will also enchanted of the direction of the ornate chair at Breda Academy.
The Florentine Neoclassicism and the one of Albertolli will not just look at the Roman Classicism but their will be positively influenced by the reinterpretation of the Roman stylist canons that the homeland of the Renaissance had already done in the 15th century.

To this stylistic-historical premise we need to add that Florence, unlike other cities as Milan, enjoyed the fortune of having employees , coming from all Europe, capable not just of gravestone and hard stones works, but also good at menusieri, carving, gilding, cabinet-making, etc.

Prestigious are the carving works published in the text that contain the collection of the Florentine palaces;

several are the workshops mentioned in the inventories , the most prestigious is certainly the one of Lorenzo Dolci(followed to his father Giovan Battista) but also the ones of Odoardo Wyndham, Carlo Toussaint, etc.
Speaking of this it must be said that the execution of the describe mirror is of a good quality, primarily for invention, then for execution and at the end for gilding. Is particularly interesting the all-round perforated braiding the covers the frame and also the execution of the double-ribbon carving of the lateral floral festoons. Everything is accomplished and done with care and attention also to the upper part, up to the wall.

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The medallion as the pots with flame collocate the furniture in the Neoclassical taste but with a print of renaissance given by the abundance of festoons.

. It is possibe to compare it with the console made by Giovan Battista Dolci (today placed in the Gabinetto Ovale of the Royal Apartments of Palazzo Pitti, 1667) but also with some more neoclassical mirrors as the one of Lorenzo Dolci (Camera del Re, winter neighborhood, Palazzo Pitti, 1798).
Even without conferring them to the same workshop, the statistical analysis shows how the abundance of carving and the invention recall to Lorenzo’s father console, while the modernity, the roses festoons, the medallion with burin bottom, the use of animal figure bring a more mature time of the new style.
For these reasons I think I can place the creation of this mirror in the last quarter of the 18th century.

I will conclude with a romantic thought: I get in the drawing of the mirror a tribute to the large baroque console with lions which execution is attributed to Paolo Monaccobi on the drawing of Foggini, at least it seems evident the reference to the festoons and the lions.

Consolle barocca Paolo Monaccorbi su disegno di Foggini
Bibliography
– Enrico Colle, Il mobile Rococò in Italia, ed. Electa 2003
– Enrico Colle, Il mobile neoclassico in Italia, ed. Electa 2005
– Simone Chiarugi, Botteghe di Mobilieri in toscana, ed. S.P.E.S. 1994
– Alvar Gonzalez-Palacios, Il tempio del gusto, ed. Longanesi 1986

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