Italian, Venice - Seat from a Gig (Sedia per Calesse o gondola), early 18th century

Italian, Venice

Seat from a Gig (Sedia per Calesse o gondola), early 18th century

Painted and gilded walnut, 100 x 88.7 x 45 cm (39 3/8 x 34 15/16 x 17 11/16 in.)

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Object details

Accession number

F25n13

Provenance

Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner from the antiques dealers Moisè Dalla Torre and Co., Venice on 20 September 1899 for 200 lire.

Bibliography

Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston: 1935), p. 202. (Italian, 18th century)
Geoffrey de Bellaigue. Furniture, Clocks, and Gilt Bronzes: The James A. Rothschild Collection at Wadesdon Manor (Fribourg, 1974), p. 666.
Alexandra Libby and Stanton Thomas. Venice in the Age of Canaletto. Exh. cat. (Sarasota: The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, 2009), pp. 142-43, no. 38.
Fausto Calderai and Alan Chong. Furnishing a Museum: Isabella Stewart Gardner’s Collection of Italian Furniture (Boston: 2011), pp. 220-23, no. 99.


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Commentary

This elegant chair was made for a gig, a light two-wheeled carriage for one person. Surviving detached gig seats are sometimes erroneously called gondola chairs. Indeed, it was called this by Isabella Gardner. According to Morris Carter, the museum’s first director, she was carried around her museum in it after being paralyzed by a stroke in 1919. Its Asian figures in landscapes, accompanied by flowers and shell motifs of applied and painted pastiglia on a deep red ground, are characteristic of Venetian furniture made to imitate Chinese lacquer.