Libby (ed.), Venice in the age of Canaletto, New York, 2009
Pergolesi, Designs for Various Ornaments, London, 1777-1801
A somewhat mysterious ornameniste and probably born in Venice, Pergolesi spent most of his life working for Robert Adam in England. There, in 1777-1801, he published the influential Designs for Various Ornaments, influenced by Renaissance and Etruscan motifs.
Intriguingly, although the overall design of the present table is positively unique, similar carved and lacquered elements are found in Piedmont, Lombardy and Naples. In fact, this suite calls to mind two of the most memorable settings of Italian neoclassical Chinoiserie: the interiors of Villa Favorita in Ercolano, Naples - designed by the Florentine architect Ferdinando Fuga (1762-1768) - and those of Villa Silva at Cinisello Balsamo, Milan, designed by Agostino Gerli and Giuseppe Levati (c.1770).
Briefly discussing the present suite, Libby (op. cit., pp. 150-52) ascribes it to Venice; however, this is based on slight evidence: Pergolesi's copperplate engravings were widely circulated and met with particular favour in Piedmont, where they were employed for instance by Bonzanigo (see the console table in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, inv. no. 1970.4).
With the exception of the present console table, the remainder of the suite appears to have left Italy for the United States in the early 20th century. An identical console table sold Sotheby's New York, 22 May 2001, lot 392; another, with slight variations to the frieze, sold Sotheby's New York, 26 October 2012, lot 239. A pair of settees and chairs are in the Ringling Museum, Sarasota (inv. no. SN1804-5); finally, one side chair is in the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York (inv. no. 1924-6-1). Recently, a pair of chairs probably from the same suite sold Sotheby's New York, Important English and European Decorative Arts, 24 April 2013, lot 113 (Fig. 1).
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