An outstanding painted Armoire

This outstanding two-door large armoire – beautifully painted all over its outer surface – belongs to a rare group of furniture made in Central Italy – and more precisely in a geographical area going across Tuscany, Umbria and Marche – between the second half of the 16th century and the early 18th century.

Armoires of this quality were certainly designed and custom-made for rich noblemen who liked – beyond the practical exigence of a container – to furnish the rooms of their residences with pieces of furniture of sober and unpretentious taste and – at the same time – noteworthy for their decorative effect.



The specimen here presented falls exactly into this kind of furniture as it’s first of all characterized by a front intentionally endowed with a small perimeter frame so that: the hinges of the two painted appear half-hidden and the beholder is not immediately realising to be in front of an armoire.

The truly distinguishing feature of this piece of furniture consists in the sophisticated as well as unusual trompe-l’oeil decoration over the doors, which makes this work unique and unparalleled: each of the two symmetrical doors is in fact adorned in the center with a large vine shoot vertically painted in a light colour – with a refined play of lights and shadows on a red background – surrounded by a rectangular frame imitating a pearl necklace, the whole flanked by two green-blue bands.



The sides are painted as well with trompe-l’oeil decoration, consisting of rectangular frames similar to the ones on the front doors and central panels with faux bois ornaments. Bracket feet and a protruding moulded profile in the upper part are also architectural details of this piece of furniture, which moreover has the peculiarity of being completely disassembleable, probably facilitating its transportation and reassembly in different spaces and contexts.



Among the few surviving armoires of this kind, we can mention: the well-known and important mid-16th century ‘armario’ at Palazzo Davanzati in Florence – richly decorated with grotesques on the façade and faux marble on the sides – and another example from a private collection, architectonically designed and painted with faux marble geometric panels over the doors as well as over the sides.




Polychromed wood

Central Italy

Late 17th century

Cm 164 x 52 x 212h

Provenance: Italy, private collection



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