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Italian Writing Cabinet

‘Stipo a Bambocci’

149 x 79 x 40 cm
(Italy, late 17th or 18th Century)
More info

Notes

Stipo (cabinet) a bambocci is a writing cabinet, which was made during the Renaissance in
Upper Italy and can be locked by a fall-front. The characteristic features of the stipo a
bambocci are the carved small, chubby little children-figures or “putti”, translated in Italian:
“bambocci”. Their figures, which are carved in high, almost circular relief, decorate the
cornices, corners and niches of the cabinets. On some surviving examples the bambocci-figures
correspond with each other.

First appearing during the Renaissance, writing cabinets gained widespread popularity due to
the increased interest in collecting. The writing desk contains many small drawers, hidden
behind a hinged board. These were very useful for storing old coins, gems, financial documents
and family jewellery. The earliest furniture “a bambocci” appeared around or shortly after 1560
in Genoa, up to 1610’s in Liguria, northern Italy. The wood that was usually used for
construction was walnut as well as burr-walnut and sometimes even the costly imported
Caucasian walnut. A system of pull-out drawers is hidden behind a hinged board, which is like a
theatrical backdrop that has been decorated in the fashion of a Renaissance palazzo. There are
hidden recesses in the very back of the drawers, which is an indispensable attribute of antique
cabinets.

The warm brown hue in combination with its extensive carvings, give the cabinet the
incomparable charm of bygone times that is characteristic of antique furniture that has
experienced the passing of the centuries. Today only very few original stipi a bambocci (less
than 12 pieces) survive. They are in distinguished private collections and museums, for instance
in the Castello Sforzesco in Milan and the State Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

This architecturally inspired Italian Renaissance carved walnut standing ‘Stipo a bambocci’ has
drawers and cupboards all with fine quality carvings. Behind the central cupboard door lays a
bank of drawers and hidden recesses in the back of the drawers. The writing cabinet is
mounted on a late seventeenth or eighteenth century cabinet.

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