Italian Baroque furniture dates back to the post-Renaissance period of European art and design. During the Baroque period, from 1600-1790, European furniture makers left the Renaissance behind, and humanism and Roman and Greek elements of design influenced their work.
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Long-distance trading resulted in the influence of Indian and East Asian furniture design on European furniture during the Italian Baroque period, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. For example, furniture makers added features such as lacquer and ornate floral patterns on furniture.
Heavy Italian Baroque furniture served as a symbol of status. For example, a walnut cassole is a heavy piece of furniture with elaborate carvings and hand-painted decorations. When you find a piece from the Italian Baroque era, note the exquisite attention to detail that makes it both gaudy and elegant.
Italian Baroque furniture also reflects the interior decorating and architectural styles of the European Baroque era. For example, the use of gilt to decorate Italian Baroque furniture is similar to much of the ceiling work done in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the Russian summer palace known as Catherine Palace, the palace's exterior and interior ceilings and walls feature gilt.
Roman Baroque furniture designs often include aspects of Catholic art and architecture. In the 21st century, Sotheby's sold an Italian Baroque cabinet with an ornate gilt base that included images of Roman churches. Because Italian furniture makers of the Baroque era worked in a largely Catholic society, religious themes influenced their choices in ornamentation.
Each piece of Italian Baroque furniture includes many expensive design elements, from the choice of materials to the carvings and accents. Acquiring a piece by Italian furniture makers required a significant investment. To decorate an entire home or palace with Italian Baroque pieces would require a personal fortune. Furniture was attainable only by royalty, high-ranking church officials and wealthy merchants, bankers, craftsmen, diplomats and aristocrats.
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