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Italian Empire armchair with original gilding

Italian Empire armchair with original gilding, made in Rome for Cardinal Fesch.  The fauteuil has an arched bead framed pediment carved with an eagle with spread wings perched in a laurel wreath with extended ribbons above a frieze carved with laurel motifs. The back is flanked by capital headed fluted pilasters. The half-round armrests are supported by griffins raised on acanthus bases above curved paterae headed curved legs terminating in lion paws. The back legs are saber form. The rails are carved with short vertical flutings. Original gilding, but the back is not gilded. The chair is numbered “XXVII”. [Chips and wear.]


The chairs are part of a large set of armchairs, side chairs and canapés commissioned in Rome by Napoleon’s uncle, Cardinal Fesch. They are thought to have been designed by Lorenzo and Dionisio Santi. Armchairs from the set were in the Demidoff Collection at San Donato and are illustrated in a famous watercolor by Fortuné de Fournier; others were owned by William Beckford at Fonthill. Another nearly identical armchair is at Malmaison. A group of the armchairs is in the Musée Fesch in Ajaccio, Corsica. Four armchairs, said to have been bought by President Monroe are in the White House; another is in the Monroe Library in Virginia. Some of these chairs were probably bought in the Fesch sale held in Paris in 1816. Lucy Wood discusses the group in Upholstered Furniture in the Lady Lever Art Gallery published by Yale University Press.

Height (ins.): 41      Length/Width (ins.): 27      Depth (ins.): 22
Origin: Italy     Period: Empire



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