The beautiful town of Sorrento is set on a hill facing the Mediterranean Sea and is the entrance to the famed Amalfi Coast. A two-hour train ride south of Rome, Sorrento is a pleasant, if touristy spot. I can just imagine sipping wine here on a garden terrace, taking in the view and the aroma of lime and orange orchards. But I digress…
Sorrento also has been famous for its wood work for centuries and even has a museum devoted to the art of marquetry and inlay. This is a subtle and difficult art of putting together pieces of different colored wood to create complex and beautiful designs. Their artists used special local woods to create colorful inlays without using any artificial coloring by using wood veneers with different colors. These include maple, rosewood, white poplar, briar, olive wood, ebony and burl elm.
This fine piece of 19th century Italian craftsmanship stands out for its exciting use of classical vignettes mixed with traditional motifs of birds, swags and scrolls. The primary wood of the box is a burled elm, to which many pieces of fine inlay have been added. It dates to around 1880.
The inlay of all the many pieces wood used for this piece is mesmerizing. On the top of the domed lid is a depiction of a figure riding high in a chariot pulled by two rearing horses. This vignette is enclosed by an oval cartouche with the background inlaid in ebony, while the chariot is in light exotic woods. The various woods harmonize well with one another and have achieved a beautiful color and patina.
The other vignettes of classical scenes of warriors, chariots and horses are placed not only in the front and sides, but also on the back of the box. This all-around decoration makes for an even finer work of art.
The keyhole has an inlaid large bird around it. Bird and some snake motifs are present throughout the composition, often in pairs surrounding the figures.
A double line border goes around the top of the lid, as well as the domed top and the bottom of the sides.
The feet are simple squares, lifting the box just enough to better appreciate the shape of the box and the scale of the inlays. The original hinge is brass and goes all along the back, helping to secure the top to the bottom. A lock mechanism is present, but the key has long been lost.
The condition of the box is excellent. I have had it professionally restored and polished. The original quilted silk on the bottom of the inside of the box is in excellent condition.
It measures about 10 inches wide, 6-1/8 inches deep and 5-1/2 inches high.
19th Century Italian Sorrento Domed Box
$495 24% Off
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