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    Sale 7586

    West ~ East - The Niall Hobhouse Collection

    22 May 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 206

    French School, 18th Century

    Designs for frescoes and porcelain, derived from Villa Palagonia, Sicily (recto and verso)

    Price Realised  

    This lot is offered without a reserve

    French School, 18th Century
    Designs for frescoes and porcelain, derived from Villa Palagonia, Sicily (recto and verso)
    Inscribed 'animal des jardins Pallagonia a Palerme' (1) and 'animal de Porcelaine Ex... du Prince Palagonia.' (2)
    black chalk, pen and brown and grey ink, watercolour
    13¼ x 9 in. (33.6 x 22.8 cm.) and smaller
    In Italian 18th century frames (3)


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    The Villa Palagonia in Bagheria, Sicily, was built from 1705 for Ferdinando Francesco Gravina, 5th Prince of Palagonia, by the Dominican monk Tommaso Maria Napoli. His eccentric grandson Ferdinando Gravina Alliata, 7th Prince of Palagonia, added the grotesque 'monster' statues circa 1777, three of which are depicted by these drawings. Originally two hundred, just sixty of these statues of beggars, dwarfs, monsters, and other oddities remain.

    The villa attracted many visitors and Grand Tourists, some admiring and some fiercely critical. Among them was Sir John Soane, whom it has been said was so inspired by his visit that it led him to set up his own museum at Lincoln's Inn Fields. Goethe visited the villa in 1787 and, horrified by what he saw, described the villa as 'a burst of insanity ... a madhouse' and the statues as 'beggars of both sexes, men and women of Spain, Moors, Turks, hunchbacks, deformed persons of every kind, dwarfs, musicians, Pulcinellas ... deformed monkeys, many dragons and snakes, every kind of paw attached to every kind of body, double heads and exchanged heads.'

    Special Notice

    This lot is offered without reserve.
    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.