Secretary, ca. 1770

  • Pietro Piffetti, Italian, 1700-1777

Kingwood, ivory, and ebony on wood carcass, mirrors

  • Overall (by sight): 88 in. × 33 3/4 in. × 18 in. (223.5 × 85.7 × 45.7 cm)

Founders Society Purchase, Robert H. Tannahill Foundation Fund


On View

  • Fashionable Living: S330.5


European Sculpture and Dec Arts

  • Spirals
  • Palmettes
  • Rosettes
  • Inlay (process)
  • Marquetry
  • Veneering
  • Ebony
  • Violet wood
  • Reflective glass
  • Wood
  • Veneer
  • Ivory
  • Volutes
  • Secretary-bookcase
  • Secretary (furniture)
  • Writing desk
  • Dropleaf table
  • Turin

Cabinetmaker to the Sardinian royal family in Turin, Piffetti was one of the most original and virtuoso furniture makers of eighteenth-century Europe. His furniture forms, conceived as sculptural fantasies, emphasize exuberant curves and an energetic interplay of solid and void. He is equally well known for sophisticated marquetry decorations, combining exotic woods, such as Brazilian kingwood, with ivory and mother-of­pearl, creating a sensuous contrast of color and surface. The restrained diamond-pattern parquetry on this desk is embellished by ivory rosettes in the interstices and by ebony and ivory stringing that outlines the form. Piffetti's extravagant furniture embodies the Italian interpretation of the rococo, marked by unrestrained animation and fantastic invention.

Louis Huth. Mrs. R. E. Underdown (London, England)

1972, sold at auction (Christie, Manson & Woods, 30 Nov. 1972, lot 86, London, England)

T. Rogers. (W. Apolloni, dealer, Rome, Italy)

1973-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

Objects of Art and Clocks. Fine French and Continental Furniture, Tapestries, Eastern Rugs and Carpets (sales catalogue). London: Christie, Manson & Woods, November 3, 1972, lot 86. Pedrini, A. Il Mobilio: Gli Ambienti E Le Decorazioni Nei Secoli Xvii E Xviii In Piemonte. Turin, 1973, fig. 317. “Family Art Game.” DIA Advertising Supplement, Detroit News, April 10, 1983, 26 (ill.). Antonetto, R. Minusieri Ed Ebanisti Del Piemonte: Storia E Immagini Del Mobile Piemontese 1636-1844. Turin, 1985, p. 330, fig. 494. Gonzalez-Palacios, A. Il Tempio Del Gusto: Le Arti Decor- Ative In Italia Fra Classicismi E Barocco; Il Gran- Ducato Di Toscana E Gli Stati Settentrionali, vol. 1. Milan, 1986, pp. 382-385, color pl. LX, vol. II: figs. 849-851. Ferraris, Giancarlo. Pietro Pifetti e gli Ebanisti a Torino 1670-1838. Turin, 1993, pp. 142-143.

Pietro Piffetti, Secretary, ca. 1770, kingwood, ivory, and ebony on wood carcass, mirrors. Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society Purchase, Robert H. Tannahill Foundation Fund, 73.167.