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right and left of the vigorous armorial bearings in the middle. The most sump-
tuous pieces of this kind seem to have been made for Roman families by Flor-
entine workmen; for this reason we shall come back to them in the discussion
of Roman furniture (compare page 44 and 111. 125 & 126).

With these luxurious and decorative pieces came very numerous simple low
chests which being mostly adapted for seats have flat tops. The front panel,
smooth or enriched with carving in moderate relief, is framed in with very fine
and effective ornament, while at each end are side pieces decorated with small
plaster forms or divided into several equal parts (111. 13 and 14).

The ornament on these different types of oassoni of the High Renaissance
is often in purr gilded — "lighted up with gold", lumeggiato in oro — as the Ital-
ians aptly describe it. For this purpose the gold was as a rule toned, and the
wood also, instead of being left in its natural color, was covered with a brown
tone akin to that of wood, by saturating it with a mixture of transparent or
opaque color with wax. By this means the gold was made to combine well with
the wood and the wood with the separate colors or paintings, where such, in the
beginning of the High Renaissance were yet found on the chests; by this means
too, the pieces of furniture were made to harmonize in a delightful way with
each other and with the color of the walls and the hangings of the room. Un-
fortunately this tone, that through age has often acquired depth and a pictur-
esque effect, has been lost through washing, waxing and oiling, due to lack of
taste and the failure in our time to comprehend the artistic intent of the old

At the same time with the cassone came the cassetta, a characteristic house-
hold piece from Tuscany. Gold, jewels, caps, fine pieces of linen, and the like,
were in the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth centuries kept in
round or oval boxes, decorated in plaster, or with paintings, not seldom by the
most noted artists, as some examples of great beauty (preserved in the South
Kensington Museum, in the Figdor collection in Vienna, in the Berliner Kunst-
Gewerbe-Museum, etc.; bear witness. Special favorites were the caskets decor-
ated in pastiglia, of simple coffer form with rich compositions of figures in re-
lief that were modelled in yellow-grey plaster (pasto da riso). These are done
on a gilded ground and kept in their own color, the ornament being lightly gild-
ed ; they portray triumphs, ancient myths, scenes from ancient history, or alle-
gorical motives. One of the richest and finest of these caskets, that in the Ber-
liner Kunst Gewerbe-Museum, is shown in illustration 17. These plaster caskets,
seem mostly to have been made in Florence in the second half of the fifteenth
and the beginning of the sixteenth centuries.

Such caskets and boxes no longer satisfied the growing demands, principal-
ly because their small size and lightness made them particularly liable to tjheft;
from them were evolved caskets in form and decoration very much like the
larger chests. At first they were inlaid with colored woods or covered with
plaster ornaments and gilded. In Florence as well as in Siena from the end of
the Quattrocento they were carved in walnut in the same way as wc.c the larger
chests, and were lightly toned and partly gilded (111. 15). To some extent in

keeping with them, the carving is generally modest; for that reason the fineness
of the profile work and the finish, as well as the proportions, are noticeable.
Of the same fineness of proportion and ornament is a simple casket of about
1500 in the Berliner Kunst Gewerbe-Museum that yet shows the old toning. A
similar one is found among the decorative pieces in the Kaiser Friedrich-Mus-
cum (111. 16). Richer but already somewhat coarser in execution are the cas-
kets of a little later origin, the sides of which are inlaid with rare antique
marbles. The number of cassette of this kind preserved would indicate that
they were used in all the better houses in Tuscany.

Because of the separation of the chest from the bench the latter were not
superflous, especially since the chests as seats were numerous only in later
times. The wall bench held its place in many rooms, especially in the vestibules
of the Florentine houses, even during the Renaissance. We also occasionally

• find, as in the Palazzo Strozzi, even the plinths of the houses used as benches
for the hospitable reception of the household attendants and the common peo-
ple. The wall bench was often ornamented richly; the legs then terminated in
lion feet, and :he high back, which served at the same time as a wainscot, was
decorated more or less with rich designs in intarsia, similar to that of the
choir stalls in the churches, though in a simpler style. After the fifteenth cen-
tury we meet also the movable bench, detached from the wall. This as a rule
is smaller and without a back, its lid-like seat being always movable so that
the inside mav be used as a chest. The sides are curved inward as a protection
against the feet, for the reception of which a small tread-board is placed below
in tront of the bench. The decoration of such benches, when they were made
for a sumptuous setting, is of simple intarsia ornament or decorative painting,
in later times confined to strongly carved but flat ornament, as the illustration
of a pair of such little benches in the Kaiser Friedrich-Museum in Berlin shows
(111. 18, 19 and 20).

In the middle of the fifteenth century, or soon after, yet another character-
istic piece was evolved from the wall bench, which the Italians appropriately
term cassapanca. It was first used as a seat, but afterward served as a chest.
This piece also, the ancestor of our sofa, is specifically Florentine and did not go

. beyond Florence and its neighborhood, where it was in fashion for about a
hundred years. In its strong, straight, chest form, with its low sides, it con-
veys to an unusual degree an impression of the serious, vigorous, and monumen-
tal character of the Florentine Renaissance furniture. On a projecting foot-
board the substructure stands in true chest form, and like the chests was used
to hold clothing, linen and the like; on this lower piece (usually closing flat on
the top) stand the back and sides. In the fifteenth and the beginning of the
sixteenth centuries the cassapanca was almost entirely flat and the simple orna-
mentation generally of intarsia. The Kaiser Friedrich-Museum in Berlin has an
excellent piece of the kind and there are several still older ones in the Villa Tor-
re del Gallo (Bardini) outside Florence, and in the Palazzo Davanzati (111. 21).
In the sixteenth century the forms had more movement, the profile work was
stronger, while the ornamentation consisted of carving, and masks and armorial


bearings were disposed in suitable places. These pieces became really avail-
able for seating only through the use of large cushions on the seat and sides
as well as at the back. Because of their large and massive construction these un-
usually durable pieces of furniture have been preserved in the palaces and villas
of the principal Florentine families in considerable numbers; they have, how-
ever, recently, almost without exception, gone into the museums and private
collections, where the armorial bearings of the Medici, Antinori, Strozzi, and
others, are to be found on them, betraying their origin. We give some illustra-
tions of unusually noble or sumptuous pieces as they are found in the Museo
Nazionale in Florence, in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and es-
pecially in the collections of Paris, Berlin and other places (111. 21-25). A cas-
sapanca of the kind, of unusual simplicity and modest bulk, with an exception-
ally high back, is found in the collection of Baron Heinrich von Tucher, in Nu-
remberg; another is in the possession of Professor Otto Lanz, in Amsterdam.

What the cassapanca was in the common room, the throne, trono, was in
the state drawing-room of the palaces belonging to the foremost Florentine
families. From a sumptuous raised throne the high-born married couple re-'
ceived their guests in Republican Florence. The throne of the princely fam-
ilies of the Middle Ages, as in the Renaissance, consisted of an ample chair or a
bench with some gorgeous material thrown over it, behind which a baldachino
rose. By the annexation of the Bishop's Chair in the churches, Florence found
a fitting model for her rich patricians: a bench approached by two steps, hav-
ing a high back finished with a strong moulding. At the beginning of the Cin-
quecento this moulding occasionally projected far forward and then rested on
slender turned and carved pillars that were supported on the low side pieces.

Of the few thrones of this kind that have been preserved, the age is shown
in the inlaid ornament of the modest profile work, such as that of the throne
from the Filippo Strozzi palace in Florence, now in the possession of Baron
Moritz Rothschild of Paris (111. 27) ; the later ones of the first three decades of
the Cinquecento have besides a certain amount of carving of the finest concep-
tion and execution, as we are made to realize in the famous fresco — the Birth
of John— in the vestibule of the Annunziata at Florence (111. 26). The throne of
the young Giuliano dei Medici, whose statue is preserved in the Medici Chapel,
is one of this kind, of very tasteful construction. From the Nuti family, into
whose possession it had come through inheritance, it fell to Prince Demidoff,
who allowed it to be defaced by retouching and the introduction of modern
intarsia (111. 28).

We have very little information concerning the form and development, in
the earlier part of the Renaissance, of the most important furniture used for
seating — the chair. Since, especially among the originals from the fifteenth
century, comparatively few with an authentic history have been preserved, we
are practically dependent upon illustrations, paintings and embroidery of the
time, which in this matter are incomplete and not always trustworthy. The
chairs of earlier times are generally simple; the seat is apt to be low and made
of braided straw. The forms that since the beginning of the Cinquecento have


been m(5st clearly defined: the stool, the straight chair without arms, and the
armchair, we find, to be sure, in the Quattrocento, but the rich artistic confor-
mation belongs to the before mentioned time.

The only known Florentine stool, sgabello, with rich decoration of the fif-
teenth century, now in the possession of Dr. Figdor, in Vienna (111. 29 and 30).
comes from the Palazzo Strozzi. It is ornamented above on both sides of the back,
with armorial bearings that in form and get up correspond exactly with the
arms on the reverse of the Filippo Strozzi medal; that also had its origin in
1480. Yet this is, particularly in its form, with its small high back, a very orig-
inal piece; the decoration is confined almost entirely to armorial bearings in
low relief as an upper finish to the back. In the sixteenth century the sgabello
was hardly less richly decorated than the chest, especially in Florence, where
this decoration was again carried out in carving, the effect of which they knew
how occasionally to heighten by gilding applied to certain parts. Excepting on
• the seat itself and the inside of the boards, the whole sgabello was as a rule
very elaborately carved; the decoration generally characterized well the re-
spective parts in their particular function. A dozen of these sgabelli close to-
gether, as, for example, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, which has a quan-
tity of the most beautiful ones in perfect condition, have the effect of being too
sumptuous, overladen; but in the large rooms of the Tuscan palace, that were ac-
cording to our ideas almost empty, as they were ranged along the sides and
grouped about the large table, the effect was well calculated and fine. We give a
few characteristic examples of the earlier sgabello as well as the richly carved
ones of a later time, particularly those privately owned in Paris, where there is
a greater number of them (111. 31 to 35).

We find the sgabello often without a back, as a hocker, sometimes four
sided and quite like the sgabello just described in construction and decoration,
sometimes three sided, which was the favorite form in Gothic times. The
hocker is generally somewhat lower than the typical sgabello.

The Renaissance chair was evolved from the ancient folding stool. The
folding chair made wholly of staves joined together, with a movable seat and a
removable back, called in Italy the Savonarola chair, in modern German cabinet
work designated with equal impropriety the Luther chair, had its artistic form
also in the fifteenth century. In Florence, however, this X chair in its simple
strong framework (generally of iron with bronze balls, compare 111. 36) was
as a rule either elaborately carved or bedecked with rich tapestries, at least in
the sixteenth century, among sumptuous surroundings; throughout that time it
was fitted up in textiles, braids, fringes, tassels, gilded bronze nails and balls
above on the back, in that luxurious yet tasteful manner, of which our modern
upholstery art shows no conception. While the sgabello was used particularly

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