Pietro Piffetti: the king of fine cabinetry

His creations sum up every magnificence of 18th-century Baroque style: Pietro Piffetti was one of the most famous and renowned ébénistes of his time, his extraordinary talent earning him the same status of famous painters or sculptors. Great art historian Alvar González-Palacios declared him “the best ébéniste of the 1700s in Italy, but also one of the most original leading figures in the western world’s supreme interior furniture making“.

After a short apprenticeship in Rome, at the young age of thirty Piffetti joined Charles Emanuel III’s Savoy court, where he stayed 46 years creating absolute masterpieces, working for the various kings who ascended to the throne. His style is “hyper Baroque”, meaning he showed extreme care for detail in all the ornamental motifs that enriched his creations. He loved using precious materials such as ivory, tortoiseshell and mother of pearl for his gorgeous inlays, with figures often inspired by Flemish or French etchings.

Piffetti skillfully dosed his talent, straddling the research for ornamental detail and monumental shapes. His most famous pieces are perhaps a secrétaire-cabinet with folding door, which soon became one of the most coveted in the world, and the so-called “Planetarium” that he made with wood and ivory around 1740-1750, which represents the dynamic relationship between Earth, Sun, Moon, planets and satellites, bearing testimony to the achievements of astronomical knowledge at the time.

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