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A PAIR OF ROYAL NORTH ITALIAN GILTWOOD PLIANTS
A PAIR OF ROYAL NORTH ITALIAN GILTWOOD PLIANTS
A PAIR OF ROYAL NORTH ITALIAN GILTWOOD PLIANTS
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A PAIR OF ROYAL NORTH ITALIAN GILTWOOD PLIANTS

PROBABLY PARMA, CIRCA 1750

Details
A PAIR OF ROYAL NORTH ITALIAN GILTWOOD PLIANTS
PROBABLY PARMA, CIRCA 1750
The folding x-frames carved with scrolled foliage, supporting a seat in red velvet, with attached tasseled cushion, minor variations in carving and construction, one with red impressed wax seal, the other with stenciled inventory number 7334 and with impressed inventory marks 2266 and DC and N, with two paper labels inscribed in ink 7334 and further paper label inscribed in ink 4774
23 in. (58.5 cm.) high, 18 in. (45.5 cm.) high, the frame, 26 ½ in. (67 cm.) wide, 17 ¼ in. (44 cm.) deep
Provenance
The Royal House of Savoy.
(For one stool): Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, [1958-1964].
A private New York Collection.
Thence by descent until sold; Christie's, New York, 20 April 2007, lot 378, when acquired by the current owner.
(The other stool): Acquired on the New York art market by the current owner
Special Notice

Please note lots marked with a square will be moved to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services (CFASS in Red Hook, Brooklyn) on the last day of the sale. Lots are not available for collection at Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services until after the third business day following the sale. All lots will be stored free of charge for 30 days from the auction date at Christie’s Rockefeller Center or Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services (CFASS in Red Hook, Brooklyn). Operation hours for collection from either location are from 9.30 am to 5.00 pm, Monday-Friday. After 30 days from the auction date property may be moved at Christie’s discretion. Please contact Post-Sale Services to confirm the location of your property prior to collection. Lots may not be collected during the day of their move to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services (CFASS in Red Hook, Brooklyn). Please consult the Lot Collection Notice for collection information.

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Lot Essay

PLIANTS: A ROYAL FORM

This pair of richly carved pliants, or folding stools, is of a specific type which was employed almost exclusively at the Royal courts, particularly of France and Italy. Their use was strictly regulated by the hierarchical dictates of court etiquette, whereby courtiers were required to be seated on stools in the presence of the King or Queen, who alone were permitted a chair with arms, emblematic of the power of the throne, a symbolic link which went back at least to the Middle Ages. Thus the inventory of Louis XIV's mobilier listed no fewer than 1,323 stools at Versailles, and the tradition extended right to the end of monarchical rule in France, as even Marie Antoinette, so keen to follow the latest fashions, continued to furnish her private apartments with pliants for her courtiers.

THE D.C. STAMP: ROYAL ITALIAN PROVENANCE

The stamp ‘D.C.’ on these stools stands for ‘Dotazione della Corona d’Italia’ and would probably have been applied during the inventories of the residences of the Royal House of Savoy in Turin, Genoa, Milan, Monza, Florence and Rome, following the unification of Italy in 1861. Unfortunately it is not possible to determine exactly which Royal Palace these stools were originally supplied to. The ‘D.C.’ stamp appears on a number of pieces of Royal furniture now in the Palazzo Quirinale, Rome, and on a pair of Roman commodes acquired for the Villa Reale, Monza in the late 19th century (possibly later transferred to Racconigi, Turin), sold Christie’s, London, 11 December 2003, lot 40. Another related pair of pliants with the same 'D.C.' stamp was sold anonymously at Christie's, New York, 11 December 2014, lot 32 ($106,250).

MADAME LOUISE-ELISABETH (1727-1759), MADAME INFANTE AND THE INFLUENCE OF FRANCE

Given the strong links between Savoy and France, it is not surprising to see folding stools such as these, executed in Italy, but clearly based on French prototypes. The richly carved pliants offered here, feature a distinctive Italian gilding but are inspired by a set of five Louis XV pliants by Nicolas-Quinibert Foliot in the Palazzo Quirinale (see A. Gonzàlez-Palacios, Il Patrimonio Artistico del Quirinale: Gli Arredi Francesi, Milan, 1995, p. 58, pl. 57). The Parisian set by Foliot, bearing the royal inventory marks from the palaces of Parma, were part of the magnificent furnishings ordered in Paris in the 1750s by Madame Louise-Elisabeth (1727-1759), Madame Infante, eldest daughter of Louis XV, who in 1739 married Infant Don Philippe of Spain. In 1748, as a result of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, she became duchess of Parma and she and her husband established their court there in the most fashionable taste. Madame Infante made three visits to Paris - in 1749, from September 1752 until September 1753 and from September 1757 until her death there in December 1759 - each time making purchases for her palaces. On her return from the first two visits she was accompanied by thirty-four and fourteen wagons respectively. Menuiserie was shipped from Paris largely disassembled and ungilt and subsequently gilt upon their arrival in Parma by Francisco Ramoneda, official gilder to the court at Parma (op. cit. p. 35). A few finished examples were sent, however, and these finished examples were used as models, copied in Parma by local craftsmen. The present pair are very likely made by such a Parma chairmaker after an imported example.

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