Woodcarving in Umbria
Although the actual names of the many great woodcarvers that worked in Umbria from the 15th to the 17th century remain unknown, a good deal of examples of their remarkable skills survive to this day, such as the 16th century choir in the Church of San Pietro in Perugia, that of the Cathedral of Todi, the stalls and pulpit of the Collegio del Cambio (15th century) also in Perugia or the 15th century Study of the Duke of Montefeltro, originally in Gubbio and today at the Metropolitan Museum of New York. A number of important examples of Umbrian-crafted furniture also survive, including inlaid wedding trunks with their distinctive decorative motifs that were to survive for centuries in the region’s woodcarvers’ designs. Among the most noteworthy examples of this art form are the decorated trunk in the picture gallery of the Museo Civico in Gubbio and the late-16th century trunk in the Pinacoteca Comunale of Città di Castello.
Another typical piece of furnishing to emerge from Umbrian workshops over the centuries was the sideboard, richly decorated much like the tables manufactured in the region, some of which were of considerable size such as the piece still on display in the Pinacoteca of Gubbio.
Having absorbed stylistic influences from neighbouring Marche and Tuscany, it is often difficult to attribute an unquestionable Umbrian manufacture to pieces of furniture. And over the years this particular craft has suffered an inexorable decline just as in the rest of Italy.
Around the mid-19th century, with the revival in taste for past styles and a rediscovered appreciation for the so-called ‘lesser arts’, the many carpenters and woodcarvers spread across Umbria began once more making furniture for everyday domestic use. Federico Lancetti in particular established a reputation for his intaglio skills and was soon followed by a profusion of craftsmen making period furniture to supply an ever-growing demand for such pieces. Città di Castello remains the region’s most important centre for reproduction and period furniture in the region.
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