An italian masterpiece
This impressive centre table with a rectangular top profusely inlaid with a central oval bouquet including roses, lily-of-the-valley, bell-flowers and daffodils with acanthus-leaf cornucopia issuing other bouquets of flowers all enclosed by a scrolled acanthus leaf and flower head border on square tapering legs, with two paper labels to the underside.
The Falcini brothers are known for their elegant designs inspired by the Renaissance and their superbly executed inlaid work. Their inlay reflected the work of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure with its flowers, foliage and birds.
The artists: Luigi and Angelo Falcini
The workshops of the Falcini family were established in the early 19th century in the small town of Campi, near Florence, by Gaetano Giuseppe Falcini (d. 1846). In the late 1820s, Luigi, the latter’s eldest son (d. 1861), opened a bottega in the Via del Fosso, Florence, and was later joined by his brother Angiolo (d. 1850).
The first piece to be exhibited by the Falcini brothers was a prize-winning marquetry table shown at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence in 1836, and subsequently purchased by Grand Duke Leopold II for his private collection.
The firm continued to exhibit at the Academy throughout the 1840s and completed important commissions for a number of prominent patrons. The Falcini brothers exhibited at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851 to great acclaim. After the death of Angiolo Falcini in 1850, Luigi was joined by his two sons, Alessandro and Cesare, who continued the business until 1882.
Reference and bibliography
On Falcini’s activity, see also E. Colle, “Il mobile dell’Ottocento in Italia” (Milan 2007, p. 190 passim) where two Falcini tables very similar to ours are present in the museum collection of Palazzo Pitti in Florence.
A good number of works have been described by Alvar González-Palacios first (“Il tempio del gusto, il Granducato di Toscana e gli stati settentrionali”, Milan 1986, ad vocem), and later by Simone Chiarugi (“Botteghe di mobilieri in Toscana, 1790 – 1900”, Florence 1994, ad vocem).
Among the various known pieces of furniture, it is worth mentioning an inlaid table presented in 1836 at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence (Gonzàlez-Palacios, op. cit., I, p. 181; Chiarugi, op. cit., p. 464) and probably purchased directly by Grand Duke Leopold II, as reported in a payment order from the Guardaroba for “a small ebony table with light and dark inlaid decoration…” (Chiarugi, ibid., p. 181). (Chiarugi, ibid., note 8); a series of four small tables for Prince Anatolio Demidoff (included in the 1969 Florentine auction of the Demidoff collection), two of which are rectangular (Gonzàlez-Palacios, op. cit., I, p. 181; Chiarugi, op. cit., pp. 194-463, notes 2 and 4, figs. 241-242), purchased by the Museo d’Arte Moderna in Florence and now housed in the room of the Gallery dedicated to the Demidoff family. Various other pieces of furniture were commissioned from Falcini by the Duchess of Casigliano, Countess Borghesi, Signora Sanfort and again by the Demidoffs.