Giuseppe Parvis

Giuseppe Parvis

Giuseppe Parvis is an Egyptian-Italian decorator and cabinet maker, born in Breme in 1831. Parvis brilliantly graduated from the Albertina Academy of Fine Arts in Turin, perfecting the art of carving.  In search of fortune, and supported by a great spirit of adventure, in 1859, he left for Egypt, which had always fascinated him, and in a few years he gained a great popularity. Parvis started by studying and drawing the elements of Arab architecture and decorations, which were particularly congenial to him and from which he drew his inspiration; then he bought carved wooden panels from ancient Arab houses and from the second-hand dealers in the city, and worked on the panels, transforming them into Moorish-style furniture. The success that he achieved in a short time and the luck that smiled at him made Parvis more determined to stay in Egypt where he opened a laboratory in Cairo. His fame extended to Europe, and the Parvis style, with its oriental touch, imposed itself in the luxurious residences of the rich Egyptian and European families. Even Khedive Ismail Pasha the Magnificent, was fascinated by his work and commissioned him to create sculpted and inlaid furniture for his residences. 
In 1867 the Khedive commissioned Parvis to furnish the Egyptian pavilion at the Universal Exposition in Paris. Upon the Khedive's request, he provided him with a pass which allowed him to enter places of great importance, thus the doors of the most significant and beautiful buildings in Cairo were opened to him, including the Museum of Arab Art, precursor of today's Museum of Islamic Art, located in the al-Hakim Mosque, so that the Cabinet Maker can study and draw inspiration from them. His countless accurate sketches would then become a kind of precious bible of the Arab decorative style.

Thanks to the great success achieved at the Exposition, Parvis was also hired for the Expositions of Philadelphia (1876), Milan (1881) and Turin (1884), where he presented an Egyptian-style bedroom and living room, decorated with statues in the form of Sphinx. The great success of his products convinced him to open a real factory in Egypt, which exported the famous furniture in inlaid and sculpted wood in the neo-Moorish style he conceived all over the world. Parvis returned to Italy in Turin in 1900, leaving the factory he founded in the care of his children. As an evidence of  gratitude, the Khedive of Egypt gave Parvis an ancient sarcophagus of pink granite from Aswan, which upon his death, in 1909 in Saronno, would be placed over his burial in the Monumental Cemetery of Turin.

Giuseppe Parvis furniture showroom in Cairo, early 20th century

Furniture designed by Giuseppe Parvis, a decorator based in Cairo at the time, and exhibited in the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1878, in the Egyptian Section. Parvis is an Egyptian-Italian decorator who started his business in Egypt in 1859 and bought the shop in the same year.

Living room in Egyptian style, Milan, Italy, 1881. Giuseppe Parvis is an Egyptian-Italian decorator based in Cairo who participated in the Italian Exposition in Milan in 1881.

Egyptian Room, Turin, Italy, 1884. Giuseppe Parvis is an Egyptian-Italian decorator working in Cairo (at the time) who participated in the Italian Exposition in Turin in 1884. He exhibited the furniture and was awarded the gold medal.

Furniture advertising for Giuseppe Parvis' company.

 Parvis Exhibition in Cairo.

 Inside the apartment of Giuseppe Parvis. The furniture includes numerous Parvis artifacts.

At Parvis Plant in Cairo c. 1885.

Parvis Plant in Cairo.

 Old Giuseppe Parvis

 The Parvis family in Cairo. Elena Garcia, Giuseppe's wife stands at the center.

Giulia Parvis, Giuseppe's sister, born in Breme, Lomellina in 1854 and died in Tonco, Monferrato in 1943.

Entrance to the famous Giuseppe Parvis furniture store in Attaba Sq, Cairo, Egypt, 1912. The other store was located in Ibrahim Pasha St. Photo by Max H. Rudmann.

Giuseppe Parvis' shop in Mouski Bazaar, Cairo, Egypt, 1915. Credit: ETH-Bibliothek Zürich.

The chaotic Mouski Square in Cairo, where Giuseppe Parvis established his first exhibition of furniture in 1859.

The Egyptian Table and Box. Inlay by G. Parvis. In 1887, on the occasion of Pope Leo XIII's Pontifical Jubilee, he wanted to organize a Vatican exhibition. Giuseppe Parvis participated in the event with a very precious table donated by the Catholic Ladies of Grand Cairo. Illustration picture from L'Esposizione Vaticana Illustrata, No. 1, May 1887.

Café of the Builders Club, Cairo, Egypt, 1930s. Furniture by Fernando Parvis.

Entrance of the Builders Club, Cairo, Egypt, 1930s. Furniture by Fernando Parvis.

Smoking room of the Builders Club, Cairo, Egypt, 1930s. Furniture by Fernando Parvis. Roberto Parvis’ private archives. Credit: and C. Mimarlık Müzesi.

Credit: Manfredo Lapi Gatteschi, G. Parvis family member, Rome.

See also Enrico Nistri.