Sunday, February 16, 2014

Gifts of Grandeur: The Castrucci Cabinet, 1610

Castrucci Cabinet
The Victoria & Albert Museum

I could use one of these. But, then I’d be afraid to put anything in it and it would be a collected cabinet as opposed to a collector’s cabinet. Here, we see, a collector's cabinet with a pyramidal roof, which sits on four lion's paw feet. The front and sides are set with seven pictorial pietre dure panels which illustrate landscapes, buildings and a Venetian canal scene.

The pictorial panels are attributed to the Castrucci workshop. For contrast, these are flanked by plain jasper panels. The Castrucci family were celebrated for their selection of hardstones which they were able to manipulate into amazing scenes. They claimed to have been inspired by the paintings of Flemish artists based in Prague around 1600.

This cabinet dates to 1610. Small cabinets such as this were quite fashionable at the time and were employed to house valuable objects, potions and pills, and sometimes personal grooming items.

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