With reverse-painted glass panels painted in imitation of various hardstones including Sicilian jasper in reds, yellows and greens, and lapis lazuli, this settee and four chairs are part of the celebrated suite reputedly made for the Prince of Palagonia for the Drawing Room of the Villa Palagonia at Bagheria, near Palermo, Sicily. However, as A. Gonzalez-Palacios noted in his ‘The Prince of Palagonia, Goethe and Glass Furniture’, Burlington Magazine, August 1971, the monogram does not correspond with the prince’s initials and may emanate from a different commission. The Sicilian origin, however, seems to be validated by the closely related suite of furniture made for La Favorita, the pavilion built for King Ferdinand IV near Palermo circa 1799. Although confirmation of the original commission still remains a mystery, the precious quality of the labor intensive construction points to a likely commission by a powerful and wealthy Sicilian family as display pieces.
The suite was subsequently bought by the Earl of Derby circa 1910 from Lenygon’s for Derby House, Stratford Place, London. Pieces from this suite are in various private collections including three pairs of side chairs sold Sotheby’s, New York, 28 April 1990, lots 175-177. In addition, chairs from this suite were copied, likely by Lenygon’s, and sold Christie’s, London, 27 May 1993, lot 181.
D. O. Kisluk-Grosheide et. al, European Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Highlights of the Collection, New York, 2006, pp. 214-215 figs. 120 and 90.
A. Gonzalez-Palacios, Il Tempio de Gusto, vol. II, Milan, 1984, p. 275, no. 629.
One side chair and one settee are in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gifts of John P. Richardson, 1992, (1992.173.1 and 1992.173.2).
Two side chairs are in the Art Institute of Chicago (op. cit. Gonzalez-Palacios, p. 275, no. 629).
One side chair is in the Museum für Kunsthandwerk, Frankfurt.
Two settees and two chairs are at the Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida, Gifts of A. Everett Austin, 1955 (SN1799, SN1800, SN1801 and SN1802).