Lot 25
  • 25

An Italian carved giltwood frame, Venice, circa 1770

30,000 - 50,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • wood, gold leaf
the rectangular plate within a frame profusely carved with rocaille and with carved cartouche to the cresting, now mounted as mirror



Clelia Alberici, Il Mobile Veneto, Milan, 1980.

Enrico Colle, Il Mobile Rococò in Italia, Arredi e decorazioni d'interni dal 1738 al 1775. Milan, 2003, pp.354-355.

Alvar González-Palacios, Il Tempio del Gusto, Milan, 1986, vol. II, p. 337, fig.786-790.

Catalogue Note

A tour-de-force of wood carving, this superb frame would have certainly been a commission to complement a precious painting in one of the noble palazzi of Venice. Although displaying intricate carvings, its meticulously treated decorative elements produce an unusually pure and fluid Rococo result.  The piece displays three sections of carving - on the inner border, on the higher moulding and on the outer border - alternated by plain areas of burnished and punched gilding. These have a very organic nature and particularly the outer border seems to gently disintegrate and would certainly blend with its immediate surroundings.

As a merchant republic, Venice absorbed many influences from foreign lands and the language of this frame is an accomplished local interpretation of French Rococo, with further elements derived from English models and from South German prints, disseminated by foreign artists and connoisseurs living in the Serenissima, as suggested by Colle (op.cit., 2003 - a note on this frame by this expert is available on request). 

At this period there were a large number of carvers in Venice, clearly demonstrated by the census of 1773 when 98 master carvers were working in 36 workshops, as well as 64 gilders working in 33 workshops (Alberici, op.cit. p.268).

There are nonetheless only a few related examples in Venetian collections, on a very impressive scale. The three frames made for the portraits of Pietro Barbarigo (now at Cá Rezzonico) and Procuratori Contarini (at Palazzo Mocenigo) and Morosini (at Palazzo Morosini), represent the pinnacle of Venetian frame-making, and showing a very sculptural handling of design.

The present frame nonetheless shares similar carving with an oval mirror frame etched with a portrait of Francesco III d’Este, duke of Modena. Albeit having carved trophies throughout, its handling of the decorative elements and the curved cartouche to the cresting are very similar to those on the present lot.