third quarter 18th century
Probably Cardinal Flavio II Chigi, Villa Chigi, via Salaria, Rome, circa 1765-1769
Mario Tazzoli, London
Carlo Lizzani, Il mobile romano, Milan, 1970, p. 39, fig. 76 and 77, p. 105, fig.181.
A. G. Palacios, Arredi e Ornamenti alla Corte di Roma, 1560-1795, Milan 2004, p. 204, no. 1, pp. 206-207.
A.G. Palacios, Fasto Romano, dipinti, sculture, arredi dai Palazzo di Roma, Palazzo Sacchetti, Rome, 15th May-30th June 1991,Tav. LXIV, cat. 121, p. 178.
The quality and depth of the sculptural elements on this pair of armchairs in addition to the inventiveness of the design coupled with the extraodinary sculptural foliate motifs depicted in gilt and polychrome colours are a fine example of Roman ebanisterie in the third quarter of the 18th century.
This distinctive and unusual pair of armchairs with their exhuberant and refined naturalistic carving of flowers and foliage depicted in vibrant green are very much in the style of a chair by Nicola Carletti now in the Doria Pamphilj collection in Rome, illustrated by Alvar Gonzáles Palacios, op. cit, p. 204, reproduced here in fig. 1.
The present pair of armchairs can be compared to a series of chairs coming from Villa Chigi, via Salaria in Rome, which have been dispersed and can be found in various collections today. These chairs were an important commission and made for Cardinal Flavio II Chigi, a member of the celebrated siennese family and the original bills for this commission can be found in the Chigi archives in the Vatican Library in Rome. The similarity between this pair of armchairs and the related furniture from Villa Chigi enable us to date the offered pair to the third quarter of the 18th century.
The armchairs are the work of the ebenista and sculptor Nicola Carletti who not only worked for the Cardinal but also for other princely families and who made at least two suites of seat furniture, eighteen armchairs in February 1768 and six in October 1769 for Villa Chigi. The gilders were Alessandro and Angelo Clementi and the painter was Pietro Rotati.
Carlo Lizzani, op. cit., illustrates two examples of seat furniture by Carletti, a chair from a set of eight (fig. 76) and a settee (fig. 77), now in a private collection documented, according to Lizzani, by the bills dated 1772-1773, but which we have not had the opportunity to verify. Lizzani, op. cit., also illustrates p.105, fig.181, an armchair conceived in a similar vein with green leaves and painted flowers, by the ebenista Carletti and the gilder A. Clementi, reproduced here in fig. 2.
The majority of furniture at Villa Chigi is decorated with trees and branches of leaves and flowers, the oak was one of the heraldic emblems of the Chigi family. One finds the family heraldic symbol on a pair of corner console tables carved in giltwood in the form of branches with green painted oak leaves and acorns, made between 1769-69, illustrated by A.G.P. op, cit,, p. 206-207.
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