This 17th century walnut wood cabinet comes from Italy and is known as a “madia”. A madia is a wide sideboard designed to hold an ample supply of loaves of bread, typically before baking. Although they have been in use for centuries, a madia produced in the 16th or 17th century is regarded as an impressive find. During the 18th century, craftsmen began to manufacture other styles of cabinets, making an intact madia a rare piece of furniture.
Because the cabinet was designed to be used in commissaries, and falling inline with other Italian pieces of the same period, it usually does not have ornate decoration, exemplifying the adage: functionality over form. Our madia is no exception, as the only embellishment to the overall rectilinear form, is a repeating crescent pattern on the apron and the carved bracket base. Beneath the apron is a set of 5 drawers adorned with recessed step molding and circular brass knobs. There are two 17-inch-wide drawers, each flanked by three narrow drawers that are 8 ½ inches wide. A beveled rail separates the drawers from the square doors below. The doors have identical molding and knobs to the drawers and are in line with the two wide drawers. Behind the doors are two fixed shelves that run the entire width of the madia. Under the narrow drawers are panels with rectangular molding.
The open lower body is backed by a large rectangular panel with raised step molding. Each side has a hand carved corbel supporting the upper body. The corbel is comprised of a volute scroll on a beveled plinth. The center of the corbel has a series of foliate-shaped cutouts.
As with most madia these days, the cabinet will be used for storage beyond its original function. You can use our 17th century walnut madia for linen and plate storage in the kitchen or dining room, or general storage in just about any room of the house. This piece exemplifies the elegant yet restrained design of Italian furnishings during this period, and it has retained its perfect walnut coloration over the years. The cabinet comes in two sections for easier transport.
CONDITION: Good overall condition. Wear commensurate to age and use with minor losses and nicks throughout. Traces of old wood worm and infill visible. Some age separations and stain to the shelves.