Six virtually identical stools in the Royal Hunting Lodge at Stupinigi, Turin, have in the past been associated with the celebrated Turinese furniture maker Giuseppe Maria Bonzanigo (see L. Malli, Stupinigi, Turin, 1968, p. 328). However, a pair of apparently identical stools stamped by Nicholas Quinibert Foliot, maître in 1776, which were possibly French prototypes, were sold Christie's, New York, 26 October 2001, lot 349. A further set of four unstamped and virtually identical stools was sold from the Estate of the Late Giuseppe Rossi at Sotheby's, London, 10 March 1999, lot 55. The Foliot stools were marked XXXXX, among other numbers, and clearly seem to correspond to the markings of the present stool. Although no markings were mentioned in the cataloguing of the Rossi stools, one of them was marked XXXXVIII and other unidentified marks were noted, which may also conceivably correspond with those on the present stool.
Could the stools by Foliot have perhaps been prototypes for the present stool that was copied in Italy by Bonzanigo and his workshop? This is certainly what happened with the suite of seat-furniture supplied by Jean-Baptiste Tilliard to the Duchesse de Parma in 1755, the basic model of which was contemporaneously copied in Parma by Nicholas Yon.
Bonzanigo (1745-1820) is perhaps best known for his work for the Royal House of Savoy, who commissioned him to decorate and furnish the State Rooms of the King and Queen at both Stupinigi, as well as at the Palazzo Reale in Turin, Rivoli, Venaria and Govone.
The connection of this group of Stupinigi stools to Bonzanigo is supported by a commode with remarkably similar legs from the appartments of the Duchessa d'Aosta in the Palazzo Reale, Turin (see G. Ferraris, Guiseppe Maria Bonzanigo, Cavalleremaggiore, 1991, plate XX) and a pair of side tables originally in the antechamber to the Queen's State Rooms at Stupinigi, which display the same wreath-surrounded medallion suspended from the center of the apron (Ibid, plate XXXI). Two related canapes, matching a suite of stools by Bonzanigo, which originally stood in the antechamber to the King's Rooms at Stupinigi, are recorded in an inventory dated 21 October 1783 as having been painted by Michele Rapos (see Ibid, p. 66, figs. XVI and XVII). Both in proportion and decoration, these latter stools, which have nearly identically carved ribbon-twist aprons and panelled pattera, closely recall the current stool.
The original commission for the hunting palace at Stupinigi was given to the famed architect Filippo Juvarra (d.1736) by King Vittorio Amedio II in 1729. In spite of the King's abdication in 1730 and the architect's death in 1736, construction continued unabated and was only completed late in the reign of Charles Emanuel III (r. 1730-73). It was towards the end of this period that Bonzanigo was first employed by the di Savoia family, being appointed woodcarver to Victor-Amadeus III (r. 1773-1796) in 1787.