The banquettes represent a newly found balance in Roman rococo furniture, with naturalistic elements asymmetrically adorning a boldly carved scrolled giltwood body. Distinguished by the absence of seat-backs, this kind of seat furniture is typical of mid-18th century interiors, and was to be found in boudoirs and salette of palazzi and ville di campagna alike.
Several stylistic features tie together the exquisite suite of furniture realised for the Cardinal's villa, namely: the entwined trails and swags of creeping flowers and leaves; the elegant acanthus-scrolled feet; and the unusual twisted-ribbon motifs bordering not only the seats but also the top of the console tables.
The Villa Chigi on the Salaria was conceived as an ex novo Rococo ensemble. The furniture commissioned reflected the painted decoration of the ambiences, which featured ivy and oak swags, the latter a heraldic device of the Chigis, and twisted-ribbon frames for the frescoes, creating a beautifully organic environment. The contents of the villa were dispersed on the open market in the 1960s. Importantly, crucial photographic evidence taken by British author Georgina Masson prior to the dispersal shows a pair of identical banquettes still in situ, with a pair of consoles d'applique identical to those forming lot 10 in the present sale (Archives of the American Academy in Rome).
For his villa, but also for his apartment at Palazzo Chigi, redecorated in the "French" manner, the Cardinal employed the best craftsmen available in Rome at the time. A virtuoso, Nicola Carletti had already proved himself one of the most brilliant intagliatori, having worked throughout the two previous decades for the Princes Corsini and Doria Pamphilij.
Apart from Carletti, who carved at least two suites of seat furniture and tables in 1768-70, the gilders Angelo and Alessandro Clementi and the painter Pietro Rotati were also employed, the latter painting the polychrome carved decoration (cf. A. González-Palacios, op. cit., p. 68).
Two banquettes, certainly from the same suite, were sold Sotheby's London, A Tale of Two Cities, 9 June 2015, lot 132, with a console table also from the same group (lot 133), and now in an important private collection.
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