Italian, Piedmont - Settee, late 18th century

Italian, Piedmont

Settee, late 18th century

Painted walnut, cane, 108.6 x 157.8 x 61.6 cm (42 3/4 x 62 1/8 x 24 1/4 in.) overall

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Object details

Accession number

F3s20.7

Provenance

Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner from the antique dealer Antonio Settini, Venice on 22 September 1899 for 500 lire (for set of seven pieces of furniture, other members of the set displayed in the Blue Room).

Bibliography

Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), pp. 29-30, 69. (Italian adaptation of the Louis XVI style)
Fausto Calderai and Alan Chong. Furnishing a Museum: Isabella Stewart Gardner’s Collection of Italian Furniture (Boston, 2011), pp. 54-55, no. 8.


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Commentary

This settee is part of a suite of caned furniture that is typical of Piedmontese taste at the end of the eighteenth century, when French influence was at its peak. The pieces are made of carved walnut, which has been painted. The oval form in the back of the settee is repeated in the accompanying chairs. The legs, circular in cross-section, are tapered and fluted, and rest on cylindrical feet. The armrests have volute ends. It is likely that the square tablets above the legs, on the rail, were originally decorated with flower petals.

The settee has been repainted; however, the original color scheme of a cream background with blue highlights and caning can be glimpsed where the more recent paint has flaked off. Cross-sections show that the original cream and blue paint were coated with a relatively thick layer of natural resin varnish, as is typical in japanning—the European imitation Asian lacquerware.

This piece of furniture was originally in the Blue Room with the other members of this set when the museum opened in 1903, although Isabella moved it to the Macknight Room in 1915.

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