AN ITALIAN NEOCLASSIC GILTWOOD ARMCHAIR

LATE 18TH CENTURY

Details
AN ITALIAN NEOCLASSIC GILTWOOD ARMCHAIR
LATE 18TH CENTURY
The rectangular padded back upholstered in celadon silk embroidered with bees below an arched cresting enclosing an eagle above padded arms with winged lion's mask uprights on monopodia legs with paw feet
Provenance
Christie's London, 3 July 1986, lot 77

Lot Essay

This imposing armchair with antique monopodia arm supports is part of a distinguished group of seat furniture, all sharing the same basic design and incorporating the Imperial eagle within a laurel wreath in an arched or triangular pediment. The design was published in Dioniso and/or Lorenzo Santi in their Modèles de Meubles, 1821, pl. XLI, no. 6. The group has undoubted associations with the French Imperial family and a number of examples with both curved and triangular pediments were included in the sale of the effects of Cardinal Fesch (1763-1839), Napoleon's uncle. Part of this suite was later owned by the celebrated collector William Beckford and is illustrated in J. Rutter's Delineation of Fonthill, 1823, in The Grand Drawing Room. The Italian origins for some examples of this model are perhaps explained by a canapé which had reputedly been in the collection of Joachim Murat (1771-1815), husband of Napoleon's sister Caroline and King of Naples, sold Christie's London, 9 June 1994, lot 120. Other seat furniture of this model was included in the famous Demidoff sale of 1880 and appears in a watercolor of Villa Demidoff at San Donato, illustrated in A. Gonzales-Palacios, Il Tempio del Gusto, Roma e il Regno delle due Sicilie, 1984, vol. II, p. 49, fig. 72. Gonzales-Palacios concludes that at least some of the seat furniture of this model was executed in Italy, possibly in Florence after Parisian models. It is interesting to note that Prince Paul Demidoff was married to Mathilde, daughter of Napoleon's brother Jérome (1784-1860), King of Westphalia, which strengthens the connection of this group of seat furniture with the French Imperial family.
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