During the 18th Century when the pomp and ceremony of public display was at its height, Italian sedan chairs and carriages were celebrated for their quality and exuberant design. It is highly likely that this richly-carved example was made in one of the most important Roman workshops and commissioned for an Archbishop or Cardinal.
A nearly identical sedan chair was sold anonymously at Sotheby’s, Zurich, 9 June 1992, lot 149. While the present example has slightly more elaborate mouldings, scrolled acanthus tips to the frame, grotesques heading each corner and further carved figures, the overall design, the relief carving to the upper door panels and the arabesque painted lower door panels are of exactly the same design.
The illustrated drawing displays the same shape and very similar carved decoration to this sedan chair. It is preserved in Palazzo Rosso, Musei di Strada Nuova, Genoa. The design was possibly commissioned for a bridal chair for the daughter of Adria Doria, who married Giovanni Andrea Doria Pamphilj VIII on 28 February 1728.
This sedan chair also relates to one in the collection of the Princess Elvina Pallavicini (G. Lizzani, Il Mobile Romano, Milan, 1970, p. 167, no. 284). While the design and execution of the carving in the present example is far more complex and sophisticated than the Pallavicini chair, both have similarly arched doors, are of the same overall shape with concave backs and carved with grotesque heads to each corner, typical of Roman sedan chairs. A further richly-carved example of the same form and possibly Roman was sold anonymously at Christie’s, New York, 28 September 2006, lot 193 ($31,200).
A further related sedan chair with similar figural outscrolled feet and relief carving to the upper door panels was formerly in the collection of Mrs. Lyne Stephens until sold at Christie’s in 1895 to J. Pierpont Morgan. It was then donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 1922.
Christie's would like to thank Stephen Loft-Simson, European Sedan Chair Specialist, for his kind assistance in cataloguing this lot.