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Neapolitan Cabinet

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Giacomo Fiammingo, ivory engraving by Giovanni Battista de Curtis and Januarius Picicaroumaround 1600Naplesebony, ivory106 x 101,1 x 60,9 cm

This cabinet from Naples is an example of mannerist façade architecture. Its clever system of shelves and drawers was to house the collectables of a chamber of curiosities. Apart from its functional purpose, the cabinet is an artwork in its own right. In a comprehensive pictorial scheme the ebony carvings present the founders of the four great ancient empires and the deeds of the virtuous hero Hercules. The extensible desktop is engraved with a circular map of the world. It is assumed that the cabinet had originally been crafted for King Phillip II of Spain (1527-1588).