Inlaid cabinet belonging to the workshop of Giuseppe Maggiolini (1738 - 1814).
Material made up of various woods: maple, rosewood, bois de rose.
Front opening door and upper drawer.
Dimensions: 46 X 27 X 82 cm
Period: 1780, Louis XVI
Origin: Lombardy, Parabiago
He has been called "the prince of inlayers", he was awarded the title of "Inlayer of His Royal Highness" the Archduke of Austria. Giuseppe Maggiolini from Parabiago (1738-1814) had a dazzling career and is counted among the leading Italian cabinet makers, to the point of giving his name to the furnishings that have perpetuated his incomparable style throughout the nineteenth century.
Little is known about the training and the beginnings, limited to the praiseworthy story of the first biographer, Giacomo Antonio Mezzanzanica, according to which Maggiolini took his first professional steps in the carpentry workshop attached to the convent of his hometown and around 1760 he opened shop on the main square of Parabiago. In 1765 the meeting that gave a turning point to history: the painter and architect Giuseppe Levati, finding himself passing by, noticed some furnishings displayed outside Maggiolini's workshop and was struck by the wisdom of the inlay. From that moment, Maggiolini was introduced in the milieu that counted in the Milan of the time, he met the painters Martin Knoller and Giuliano Traballesi, Giuseppe Piermarini, the ornatists Agostino Gerli and Giocondo Albertolli, Andrea Appiani (pupil of Levati, he provided many drawings for the decorations of the his furniture) and the aristocrats who had their homes embellished by them.
The great occasion presented itself in 1771, when following the wedding of Archduke Ferdinand of Habsburg, son of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, the archducal court settled in Milan with Maria Beatrice Riccarda d'Este and the architect Piermarini the works of adaptation and new construction of the City Palace (today's Royal Palace) and of the new Villa in Monza were assigned. Maggiolini was involved in these two great neoclassical construction sites, he designed and executed floors, furnishings and decorations. The archduke conferred on him the title of "Inlay of His Royal Highness". After the Habsburg court, Maggiolini's furniture became the prerogative of the Napoleonic one at the beginning of the nineteenth century, as well as of the most cultured and ambitious Milanese society of the Enlightenment.
The novelty and genius of Maggiolini consist in being able to combine an ancient craft such as wood inlay - of which he was a true virtuoso - with extraordinarily innovative and still current production criteria and schemes. In fact he was a precursor of modern industrial design, because with extreme clarity he sensed that his craftsmanship needed formal inventions, projects, and that he had to get them from the best artists of his time, who in turn competed to supply them.
Thus, more than 200 years ago, the “Mobile Maggiolini” was born: a brand to be shown as a sign of social, economic and cultural status, which anticipates the pleasure of owning a must of modern and contemporary industrial design by two centuries.
A unique case in the centuries-old history of Italian art furniture craftsmen, Maggiolini does not have a family tradition behind it and for this reason is not a conservative. It is strong in an ancient knowledge that can be made available to the "new furniture" which throughout Europe in those years was defining itself according to new uses, types and forms.
The neoclassical furniture
The last quarter of the eighteenth century coincides with the affirmation of the neoclassical taste, in opposition to the previous Rococo or Baroque style, particularly widespread and appreciated in Lombardy. An echo of this transition can be seen in the early works of Maggiolini, that is, of the rounded coffers with high carved legs and chinoiserie decorations. However, the type of Maggiolini furniture soon became clearer: sober and elegant furnishings, a shape dominated by rigid geometries, with lateral bands and upper and lower chains that define the façades; the surfaces are large and smooth, with plant friezes or geometric ornaments enclosing the medallions at the center of the tops, containing refined classical allegories or mythological characters. The leg is tapered and in the shape of a truncated pyramid.
Master of inlay
The dominant features of Giuseppe Maggiolini's production are the technical ability and the pictorial sensitivity with which the master brought the ancient art of inlay or wooden inlay to the highest levels (very different from the more rough carving, in vogue in the Baroque and Rococo era ), consisting of the perfect combination of pieces of different woods in quality and tone, according to an increasingly refined design.