DUCHESSA DI GALLIERA
The Duchessa di Galliera mentioned on one of the inventory labels of this commode refers to Josphine Maximillienne Eugnie Napoleon de Beauharnais (Milan 1807 - Stockholm 1876), firstborn daughter of Eugne de Beauharnais (1781-1824) and Augusta Amalia (daughter of King Maximilian of Bavaria). Her father, Eugne de Beauharnais, was adopted by Napoleon Bonaparte and named Viceroy of Italy in 1805. The young Josphine de Beauharnais was named Princess of Bologna on 29 December 1807 and Duchessa di Galliera on 28 May 1813. In a document dated 5 June 1813 in the Archivio Storico Comunale di Bologna it is recorded that the ducato di Galliera was created for nostra Principessa Primogenita di S.A.L. il Principe ViceR almost certainly by Napoleon Bonaparte. She married Oscar I (1779-1859), King of Sweden and Norway and marshall under Napoleon, in 1823, the year the inventory was taken at the Palazzo Reale di Bologna.
PALAZZO REALE DI BOLOGNA
The 'Palazzo R. d. Bologna' inventory label refers to a requisitioned palace that was renamed Palazzo Reale but that had been that of the Caprara family. Cardinal Giovanni Battista (Bologna 1733 - Paris 1810), who was named bishop of Milan in 1802 and who crowned Napoleon King of Italy three years later, was a member of that family. Two different Caprara palaces are recorded in the 1826 Guida dal Forestiere per la Citt di Bologna e suoi sobborghi con XIV tavole in rame (Civiche Raccolte Bertarelli, Milan - Bo. 1826, vol. I. 37), but the one that this commode's label refers to is that described as Palazzo gi Caprara ora Beauharnais, in the via delle Asse (later renamed via IV Novembre), next to the San Salvatore church. The palazzo was described as:
Di bellissima architettura, che si crede del Terribilia, ed ha nella facciata inciso 1703, ma la grande aggiunta architettura, da Alfonso Torregiani. Il Cortile sul disegno del Torri. Le scale sono aggiunte con direzione di Antonio Laghi. Vi sono alcune ottime pitture, e per i moderni restauri divenuto sempre pi degno di considerazione. Quasi in faccia a questo trovasi il Palazzo Marescalchi.
Interestingly, there is no mention of this palazzo in the public records between 1812 and 1837 except for a note written by Conte Podest which is dated 4 December 1813. It mentions the arrival of the King of Naples in Bologna and that the Viceroy of Italy designates that palazzo for the Duchessa di Galliera. (...destinato l'allogio nel Palazzo della Duchessa di Galliera Principessa Giuseppina sua Figlia.)
In the same note, the Conte indicates that he is personally going to see if the quality and condition of the furnishings in the palazzo would be sufficient for the expected guest ...domani 5 corrente mi porter personalmente al detto Palazzo alle ore 11, della mattina, per osservare, unitamente a Lei (sig. Pancaldi) lo stato in cui si trovano le mobiglie in esso esistenti, e riconoscere quali oggetti possono abbisognare pel rinnovamento dei quali concorrer ben volentieri in una simile circonstanza.
The note reveals further that the Bolognese nobility was asked to lend good furniture to properly furnish the Palazzo for that occasion. Interestingly, every piece of furniture that was lent to the Palazzo was catalogued, given an inventory number and then returned to their owner upon the departure of the King to Rome. Unfortunately the inventory to which this document refers to is lost. This commode must have been part of the furniture inventoried in the Palazzo for this occasion. The label on it further suggests that it was in the appartments of the Chamberlain.
A pair of gilt armchairs sold anonymously Sotheby's London, 11 December 1992, lot 217, bear similar labels for the Palazzo R. di Bologna inventory.
DUCA DI GALLIERA
The title 'Duca di Galliera' was bought in 1837 by the influential Genoese banker Marchese Raffaele Luigi di Ferrari (1803-1876). The third 'Duca di Galliera' inventory label may refer to this second creation.
The brand 'M.R' is probably that of the Italian Mobilier Royal. A number of other pieces bear this mark together with the crowned 'N', including the pair of armchairs of the above mentioned sale which also bear the 'Duca di Galliera' label; a fruitwood bureau-cabinet in the same sale (lot 256); a pair of console tables which also bear labels for the 'Duca di Galliera' and the 1823 inventory were sold anonymously, Sotheby's Milan, 16/17 December 1997, lot 556; a pair of giltwood armchairs which also bear a label for the 'Ducato di Galliera' inventory of 1837 were sold anonymously, Sotheby's New York, 27 September 1996, lot 196.