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Writing Cabinet

Workshop of Iacobus Fiamengo, Flemish, recorded in Naples, Italy, between 1594 - 1602. Scenes based on engravings made by Dirk Volkertsz. Coornhert, Netherlandish, 1522 - 1590. After designs by Maarten van Heemskerck, Netherlandish (active Haarlem and Rome), 1498 - 1574.

Made in Italy, Europe

c. 1600

Ebony with ivory inlay

24 7/8 x 35 3/4 x 16 3/4 inches (63.2 x 90.8 x 42.5 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

* Gallery 250, European Art 1500-1850, second floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with Museum funds from the Edmond Foulc Collection, 1930

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The twelve scenes inlaid into the interior and exterior of this cabinet show the military victories of Charles V (1500-1558), King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor. The interior has a central scene that depicts Charles V enthroned above his vanquished foes. The worldwide importance of Spain and the empire is further demonstrated by the maps on the front exterior that depict the areas and cities under Spanish rule or influence. The cabinet was probably ordered as an official state gift. The unidentified coat of arms on the front panel may be that of the original recipient.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    This writing cabinet, which was probably ordered as an official state gift, is decorated on the interior and exterior with scenes of military victories of Charles V, King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor (1500--1558). The worldwide importance of Spain and its empire is celebrated by maps on the front of the cabinet that represent areas under Spanish rule or influence. This panel opens to reveal an interior, containing functional drawers, that imitates a building façade whose central image shows Charles V enthroned. The cabinet belongs to a luxurious furniture type produced by craftsmen who worked in collaboration using images from various sources. Its primary artisan was Iacobus Fiamengo, a Northern European active in Naples, which was then under Spanish control. Fiamengo must have been both well recognized and prolific: twenty-three cabinets are now known from his workshop. For the decorations on this piece he drew on compositions by Maarten van Heemskerck, which were available in the form of prints by a third Northern artist, Dirck Coornhert. Dean Walker, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 128.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.