Ebony, ebonized walnut, ivory, and glass
Giovanni Battista Gatti
(Italian, 1816 – 1889)
"Rectangular ebony panel with two large ebonized walnut oval frames within which are glass cameo portraits of William and Elizabeth Gilstrap, surrounded by intricate inlaid ivory grotesques of monsters and foliage. Beneath the portraits are the Gilstrap arms. Between the two framed ovals is a female figure holding wreathes over the two portraits. At the corners of the panel are four lobes with ivory portraits of Italian Renaissance artists: Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo, and Perugino. The border between these lobes is decorated with inlaid ivory grotesques and foliage as well as cameo portrait busts of ancient philosophers and emperors: Galba, Socrates, Tiberius, Plato, and Vespasian. Giovanni Battista Gatti specialized in decorative objects made of ebony with elaborate inlaid ivory ornament. The intricate technique and the motifs of grotesques, foliage, and animals drew from Italian and German Renaissance sources. In this panel, Gatti included ivory portraits of the Italian Renaissance artists Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Perugino. He also incorporated portraits of ancient philosophers and emperors. Gatti (Italian for “cats”) often included his namesake in his works. Can you find a feline face near the center of the panel?"