by Barbara Palladino
Inside Turin’s Royal Palace is one of the gems of 18th-century Baroque art: the Gabinetto del Segreto Maneggio degli Affari di Stato (State Affairs Secret Management Cabinet Office) is perhaps not as well known as other wonders of decorative art, but represents a truly unique example of excellence. Construction began under king Victor Amadeus II and was completed by Charles Emmanuel III, with the best artists of the time working on it from 1731 to 1740. Once ready, the Gabinetto became the center of power: it was where Charles Emmanuel III welcomed the influential Marquis of Ormea and Bogino and his ministers, but also where secret political agreements were made and alliances built.
While Filippo Juvarra was entrusted with the room’s overall design, Pietro Piffetti created its paneling and amazing wooden furniture with rich details and decorations – including the wonderful central table, stools and units – and Francesco Ladatte made the gilt bronze sculptures. The splendid frescoed vault ceiling, by Claudio Francesco Beaumont, is dedicated to the theme of “A monarch’s virtues”. The decor was completed by Benedetto Alfieri, who added wondrous effects with mirrors and designed the space’s lighting.
The Gabinetto del Segreto Maneggio degli Affari di Stato underwent a substantial restoration, completed in 2018; the operation has brought back to light a true summary of the Savoy court’s aesthetic taste in that period, which anyone who lays eyes on this room can certainly appreciate, even today.
Piazzetta Reale, 1