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An Italian scagliola top, second half of the 18th century, probably Tuscan
31
An Italian scagliola top, second half of the 18th century, probably Tuscan

Details & Cataloguing

Inspired by Chatsworth: A Selling Exhibition

New York

An Italian scagliola top, second half of the 18th century, probably Tuscan
Asking Price: $220,000

centred by a cartouche enclosing a parrot amidst cherries, acorns and oak branches within ribbon-tied faux porphyry, acanthus scroll and fruit and floral spray borders
H. 30 3/4 in., W. 60 3/4 in., D. 1 1/4 in.; 78.1 cm., 154.3 cm., 3.2 cm.
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Provenance

Pallavicini Family, Geneva; sold 1977;

London Sotheby’s, 15 December 1999, lot 198;

Where acquired by the present owner.

Exhibited

Biennale des Antiquaires, Paris, 1986.

Literature

A.M. Massinelli, Scagliola l'arte della pietra di luna, Rome, 1997, p. 43, plates 28-28a.

Catalogue Note

The technique of scagliola dates to Roman times and is made from a mixture of plaster and crushed selenite with coloured pigments that resembles marble when dried and polished. Italians refer to the medium as pietra di luna (moonstone), because the mineral evokes the colour of the moon when held up to the light. The method was revived in the late 16th century as a less costly alternative to inlaid marble and hardstones, commonly referred to as pietre dure.
Scagliola workshops flourished in central Italy, particularly in Tuscany, where one of the leading practitioners of the art was the Benedictine monk Enrico Hugford, based in the Vallombrosa monastery outside Florence. Son of an expatriate English Catholic clockmaker, Enrico was the brother of the painter, art collector and dealer Ignazio Hugford, and his patrons included the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo and Grand Tourists in the circle of the English ambassador Horace Mann. Hugford also trained other monks in the technique, and the Vallombrosan school would influence the style of other scagliola workshops in the region.
Massinelli illustrates an unusual scagliola panel depicting a figure of Britannia conceived in a similar vein, supplied by Domenico Bartoli to William Constable of Burton Constable Hall, Yorkshire, in the 1760s and still in situ in the Great Hall. Domenico and his brother Giuseppe were originally from Livorno, but by 1766 are recorded in London, where they established a partnership with the Dresden-born Johan August Richter in Great Newport Street. One of a pair, the Britannia top has a similar geometric cartouche enclosing a central boss comprised of C-scrolls and foliage and entwined with oak leaves and branches, all treated in an almost identical manner to those on the present top.  There is a comparable colour palette of blue for lapis lazuli and a generous use of yellow for Siena marble all on a black ground.  The pink ribbon-tied fruit, scallop shells, scrolling acanthus and vine leaf and faux porphyry borders are also all similarly drawn and would support a possible attribution to the Bartoli workshop.

Inspired by Chatsworth: A Selling Exhibition

New York