Thanks to the ease with which you can find and work with wood has always been very used mainly from the pre-industrial levels companies, which it served to an endless of artifacts, many of which essential to human’s life. Between the activities that make an extensive use of wood, it is counted without doubt the cabinetry; it can tap into this versatile row material for the inlay decoration, combining essences of different colors.
In Italy, an important role in the production of wooden furniture decorated with marquetry should be recognized to the workshops of Rolo,where this art was already estabilished in the eighteenth century, as came to light from the documents of the archive.
To explain the factors of this bloom in a small rural town what was then the country of Rolo, we must remember above all the importance that covered in the farming world the knowledge of wood and the techniques to knead it. It can assume that locally the manifacture of inlaid furniture has been stimulated by the presence – for about three centuries, until 1776 – the noble family Sessi, potential buyer of precious furnishings.
“Rolesi” artisans have also benefited from the lack of corporations in their territory – in other places over time have obstructed the development of the trades that wanted to protect, from a fiscal policy of the count Sessi vexatious against those who practiced the arts and trade, as well as the geographical location of the town, located in the border area between Reggio, Modena e Mantova.
In the eighteenth century, when the artistic work of wood in Italy reached the highest levels of quality, in Rolo operated ten shops, expecially engaged in the construction of drawers, flaps, and tables of various use, all furniture with carvings, drawings and wood works details. It was proved by a valuable archival source of 1777 and the discovery of Louis XIV and Louis XV fournishings attributable to “rolesi” cabinet makers, some of which sometimes signed their name up to the works, aware of their value.
As evidenced by the values of excellent quality discovered in the course of the latest research, the more active shops in the middle decades of the eighteenth century, among which those Giuseppe Preti e Paolo Biraghi, produced a wide range of rocaille stylish furniture, on commission of rich private families residing near Este duchy and in the territory of Bologna.
Religious bodies also ordered and they have been made complex furniture: cabinets and counters for liturgical parameters, stalls, pulpits, choir stalls, pews and confessionals, made by the best local artists.
Many other commercial opportunities were offered to “rolesi” cabinetmakers from the major trade fairs of the time, such as the one that was held in Reggio Emilia in the month of May. This annual event drew in town numerous buyers and traders, among which we find in 1790 Giovanni Frignani Rolo, who had gone to sell the tables.
The art of rolese inlay experienced a great liveliness in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, when, ceased the dominance of the Baroque and Rococo, which prevailed in the golden or lacquered finishes and the carving in the ornamental motifs. Spread the demand for furniture influenced by the stylistic neoclassical and marquetry returned to occupy an important place in the furnishings decoration. In those years, and almost in the half of the nineteenth century, from rolesi laboratories emerged all kinds of inlaid furniture, for the furnishing of living rooms, bedrooms, places of study and offices: chest of drawers, flaps, chests, desks, sofas, toilets, wardrobes, bedside tables, mirrors, cantonals, consoles, tables, boxes etc. These artefacts, especially for aristocratic families and the emerging middle class, are characterized by some recurring motifs, such as the elegant ramages made with thin threads of light wood.
Unlike what is happening in various production centers, even the most important and most famous than Rolo, here in the second half of the nineteenth century the most talented carvers, soon imitated by other local shops, were able to adapt to new aesthetic trends and changes resulting from a first growth in the industrial sense of the Italian economy. Following the general direction of furniture, which considered the center table furniture one of the most sought-after and important for the salons of middle-class homes, the “rolesi” cabinetmakers specialized in the construction of this type of furniture, and, while maintaining an organization and a way of working purely artisanal, in some laboratory will begin to introduce small machines, in order to facilitate some operations of serial character.
The opportunities offered by the development of railways,maritime transport and postal services were caught early by local carvers, that at the beginning of the seventies of the nineteenth century were able to market their tables not only in various Italian regions, but also abroad: in many European countries, in the Mediterranean, North America and some countries of Latin America.
Another very interesting and innovative aspect of this trade was the ease with which such furniture could be disassembled and reassembled to promote sending in the Italian context, the inlaid tables of Rolo represent an early example of asseble modern furniture, preceded in Europe only by the great Austrian production of bentwood chairs (thonet), also packaged and shipped disassembled; is easy to understand that all this allowed us to contain the final cost of the product.
Thanks to the commercial success, it was possible to find quite frequently on today’s antique market “Rolini” inlaid tables, which are often attributed to manifactures of other Italian localities, especially that of Sorrento, although they are now avaible publications able to avoid erroneous informations, maybe, helped confusing the fact that, between eight and nine hundred, some “rolesi” laboratories were sourced in Sorrento of small figurative motifs executed in series , to be inserted in the center of the tables.
At the beginning of the 20th century, in Rolo were produced each year from six to seven thousand inlaid tables, with the employment of about 100 workers and many young adults of age less than fifteen years.
The closure of many borders caused by the outbreak of the First World War caused the collapse of exports and the decline in sales in the following years, it would have been accentuated by the emergence of a new aesthetic stylish and new market demands. Moreover ended forever revivalist tendencies that, for many decades,had provided a wide request of inlaid production of Rolo.
With its inlaid furniture, the antique “rolese” cabinet become a source of inspiration and subject of renewed interest in some laboratories related to artistic wood, which obviously move from preambles and reasons of the past.
In recent years, following the activities of study and promotion carried out by the museum, were born in the Municipality new workshops for the craft production, restoration and marketing of inlaid furniture of Rolo. We will present some of the brands that use “tarsia di Rolo”(marquetry of Rolo) and “tarsia tradizionale di Rolo” (traditional marquetry of Rolo).
The Museum Shop of the inlay of Rolo
Center for the promotion and enhancement
In addition to the protection of trademarks and the space dedicated in the internet portal www.tarsiadirolo.it, the Museum of the inlay of Rolo and the Local Government, in collaboration with Pircher Oberland S.p.a,devoted to the collective promotion and enhancement of the current production an exhibition point at the new Center Joker (9,Battisti street) in which local artisans who use the protection of trademarks, can expose some pieces of their own production.
The Exhibition Centre designed as a showcase- material correspondent of the virtual-website showcase, used for group or “personal” exhibitions of individual craftsmen.