A NORTHERN ITALIAN FRUITWOOD MARQUETRY PANEL
BY LUIGI RAVELLI, VERCELLI, CIRCA 1800
Signed 'Luigi Ravelli'
15 1/2 x 21 inches (39.4 x 53.3 cm)
Sale, Christie's, London, 4 July 2017, lot 102.
The following note was written for the Christie’s catalogue:
Ignazio Ravelli (1756-1836) and his son Luigi Ravelli (1776-1858) are among the most skilled and famous Piedmontese marqueteurs or intarsiatori of the last quarter of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. Specialised in marquetry inlays, Ignazio started reproducing inlays seen on the Renaissance choir stalls from the church of Sant’Andrea in Vercelli, his home town. Ignazio was granted royal patronage from 1783 in Turin. Due to the success of his production, his son, Luigi soon started to work alongside his father producing mainly marquetry panels called quadri in tarsia executed in finely chosen fruitwoods. As his father, Luigi is recorded on having supplied works to King Vittorio Amedeo III who appreciated these architectural trompe-l’oeil marquetry panels.
Apparently unrecorded, this marquetry panel signed ‘LUIGI RAVELLI’ would have been executed after his father’s signed and dated 1796 example which is now in a private collection (illustrated in Roberto Antonetto, Il mobile Piemontese nel Settecento, 2010, p. 321, ill.3). The third almost identical architectural capriccio is conserved in the Museo civico d’arte Antica in Palazzo Madama, Turin since its acquisition in 1868. (illustrated Op.cit. p. 322, ill. 4a). It was not uncommon for both Ignazio and Luigi to repeat their popular scenes with minor changes or differences to the subject. Apart from marquetry panels, the Ravelli are as well known for producing case furniture inset with architectural panels. Demi-lune commodes seemed to be their most successful type of furniture, as a superb pair of inlaid commodes from the Collection of Giorgio Marsan and Umberta Nasi, sold Christie’s Milan, 28 November 2007, lot 1009 (€ 252,200 incl.).
A set of four architectural panels signed Luigi Ravelli Vercelli, dated respectively 1796 and 1811 were sold Sotheby’s London, Treasures sale, 4 July 2012, lot 36 (£121,250 incl.); while a pair of panels possibly by Ignazio or Luigi Ravelli and depicting the imaginary prison views called Carceri d’invenzione based on Piranesi were sold Christie’s New York, 21 October 2004, lot 1131 ($119,500 incl.)