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spite of the relationship, as completely as in high art. Unfortunately little
remains in its place and position, and what has come into the dealers' hands
has been sold from Florence, and generally passes as Florentine. Siena is
especially lacking in enough furniture of the fifteenth century for us to lay
hold of, but since the house furnishings of the sixteenth century were in kind
and form very closely related to those of Florence, we may well assume that
the same is true of the earlier time. In the Cinquecento the furniture of
Siena was characterized by a large and fine simplicity and severity of form,
with richness and originality in ornament. Siena had at that time architects
like Peruzzi, and wood carvers and decorators like Barile and Marrii.a; ?ucn,
and similar artists have influenced the decoration of the furniture of their
native city, and have themselves occasionally made it. The richly carve-J
^unfortunately much worked over) casket by Barile, preserved in the Town
Hall (111. 85), is as fine in construction as it is in ornament. Characteristic in
form and decoration of a somewhat later time is a chest embellished with
delicate intarsia, with the Piccolomini arms, in the Kaiser Friedrich-inuseum
(111. 84). That the throne also was not unknown in the large palaces ; s in-
dicated by a striking piece that is now in the possession of the Berliner Kunst-
gewerbe-Museum. It is richly gilded on plaster ornament against a blue-
toned ground. The Hebraic inscriptions on the panels, that shine through
the later painting over, betray the fact that it came from a synagogue (111.
86). The old bench is missing and is replaced in the museum by a later
chest of about the same size. The ornamentation in the style of Lorenzo
Marrina shows the origin of this throne to have been Siena. It is believed to
have been constructed for one of the palaces and later presented to a syna-
gogue. It seems to me more likely that it was in the first place designed for
the latter, as the church throne that came over from the Gothic period, and
the Bishop's chair at the side of the high altar, furnished models for similar

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pieces in the Tuscan palaces. The nearly related form and similar decoration,
as well as the castor, which is found on church furniture in the cabinet work
of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, make this seem probable. Paintings
and miniatures show that also in the Gothic period the throne, even without
decorations, was recognized as a piece of house furniture.

From among the Sienese credenze of this period the Kaiser Friedrich-
Museum has a three-sided piece of about 1530-1540 (111. 89) that in its
unusually fine proportions and profile work, as in the very effectively disposed,
delicate, almost purely architectural ornament, clearly indicates the style and
art method of Peruzzi. A somewhat later, two-sided credenza often appearing,
is not quite so fine on account of the stronger projection of this ornamentation.
A good example is shown in 111. 59. As closely related are the Florentine and
Sienese tables of the same period, as the table three meters long, from the
Palazzo Palmieri in Siena, bearing the arms of the family, proves (111. 87).
This is now the property of H. V. Sickart, of Vienna. On a writing cabinet
of about the same period (approximately 1540) we find characteristic orna-
ment of a similar kind, while the writing tablet is decorated with intarsia.
Among the cabinets from Siena a few have been preserved that give us an
idea of the painted furniture, as Vasari described it. Such was the three-sided
painted cabinet for arms in the Palazzo Davanzati ; the decoration in a design
which included weapons was painted in Sodoma's workshop (111. 90).

The furniture of the Renaissance in Umbria on the west side of the
Apennines, especially in Perugia, has a Tuscan character but with an individual
stamp. Yet, like the Sienese furniture (since it also has not been recognized as
such when it has fallen into the dealers' hands) it has been little studied, so
we must limit ourselves in characterizing it. The Tuscan influence is felt in
the same degree in the furniture that, according to indications, originated in
the Duchy of Urbino, which, having a close political connection with Florence,
fell more under her influence at the time of the Renaissance than did Siena.
Duke Federigo entrusted to prominent Florentine artists the decoration of
the rooms of his new palace, in which admirable wainscoting with intarsia is
still preserved in its place and position. Among a few noteworthy chests, put
together with smooth boards and decorated only with separate, very simple, geo-
metrical ornaments, either burned in or inlaid (111. 92, Bardini Collection, Flor-
ence), another type survives from the Middle Ages. A small casket of the same
time (111. 15) and a unique commode, similar in construction to the credenza
(111. 91), follow the Tuscan model in the simple palmetto decoration in carving
and intarsia, of strong slightly peasant-like composition. In a clothes rack,
with the arms of Duke Federigo (Bardini Collection), the same style is shown
in the form and in the intarsia in a finer way.



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VENICE AND THE MAINLAND

The subordination of Venetian furnishings to the Venetian dwelling-house
is particularly striking. Because of the position of Venice, in the midst of the
sea, on a number of small islands cut through by numerous canals, these
have a very peculiar form and ground plan, which has its effect in turn on
Venetian furniture. On this account it differs more or less from that of the
rest of Italy.

The house of the noble like that of the wealthy Venetian stood, and stands *
today, with its front on a canal — where possible on the Canale Grande — with
its back toward a street. It has an entrance on both sides; the main entrance
is, however, on the canal, as the gondola furnishes to Venice its only means of
intercourse. The street entrance led through a small court or close by it.
These entrances open on both sides into a long low vestibule, that runs
straight through the whole house from the canal to the court; on each side
are the rooms devoted to household affairs. The stairs go up at one side, not
quite so narrow but almost as steep as those in the palaces of Florence.
These lead to the main floor, which is disposed in the same way. Over the en-
trance hall, or rather corridor, lies, in the same form and dimensions, the
large main room, generally higher than on the ground floor and much lighter,
as it is closed at both ends with high windows in arcades: a vestibuie for the
small connecting living-rooms on each side, and at the same time a reception
and entertainment hall, the favorite abiding place of the Venetian, and suited
to him, with its long sides embellished galierywise with paintings and Gobelins.
In the story above are the bedrooms and other connecting rooms. In the oldest
and most contracted parts or the city the stairs had their place in the court,
as an open stairway, or tower-like with winding steps going up to the highest
story.

Simplicity and roominess, which were the characteristic features of this*
plan, were reflected proportionally in the house furnishings, during the Gothic
period as in the Renaissance, the Baroque, and the Rococo. The antique fitting up
of the rooms in the Doge's Palace and in certain schools, as well as in a few pal-
aces — of a later period, indeed — gives us today a fairly true picture of the
Venetian palace ot the Renaissance. No built-in furniture, no great pieces or *
established groups, hindered a comprehensive glance or free movement, espec-
ially in the large main room. The furniture was more often restricted to the
walls; it ran around the sides in the form of benches, mostly attached to the
wainscot, or as chests, while tables and beds rested against the walis in the
bedrooms. Over the benches the walls were hung with long low Gobelins •
in an all-over pattern of verdure and finished above with a border. There were,
with all kinds of household utensils for daily use, candlesticks, lamps, boxes,

27



vases, etc., for the rich; for scholars and art amateurs, all kinds of small art crea-
tions, old and new, with instruments, books and similar possessions. Large
paintings or Gobelins decorated the walls of the salon, a small mirror or a
painting those of the other rooms; before everything there was in chese rooms
a "Grecian" Madonna in a rich tabernacle, with a small lamp and a costly silk
curtain before it, which also shielded the mirror.

When we attempt to find out about these pieces of the Renaissance period
in detail we encounter extraordinary difficulties. While we can refer to a
hundred Florentine chests of the fifteenth century, while tables and credenze
are yet preserved in considerable numbers, and of other kinds of furniture of
the Quattrocento at least one or more can be found, for the period from the
Middle Ages to this time, we have nothing to say; so far as I know, with the
exception of a few mirrors and small fittings of the kind, hardly a piece re-
mains. And yet the equipment of the Venetian houses was, as the carefully
made inventories left behind prove, unusually sumptuous. Venice has, thanks
to its position, almost entirely escaped plundering, earthquakes, ravaging fires
and the like misfortunes, that in other places have wrought fearful havot
among arc works and furnishings. How this complete lack of all furniture
from earner times can be explained, is a puzzle. For the deterioration of the
city and of almost all its families since the Napoleonic era does not alone
offer a sufficient explanation for this state of things, since the old furniture, that
until the middle of the nineteenth century was almost entirely disregarded and
worthless, would have been, under such wretched conditions as those of Venice
at this time, the more likely to be kept in their attics or even in con-
tinued use. Probably it was due much more to the fact that up to the time
when she lost her power, Venice was rich and flourishing, exhibiting the great-
est luxury; in consequence she played a similar role to that of Paris from the
time the decree went forth that the house also should always be fitted up in
modern style; hence old furniture was generally banished, after which it rapidly
went to ruin. But even so, it is difficult to understand why — to mention only
one example — of the many thousand chests, decorated with painting, carving,
or inlaid work, that according to the inventories in the last decades of the
fifteenth century were in the Venetian houses (in every house of a family of
any standing there were one or two dozen of these mentioned in the inventor-
ies), only a very few are preserved.

As in the Florentine house, so in the Venetian, the most important piece
of furniture is the chest, the cassa, or the forzier, as it was called in Venice.
Truly it played here a more important role than in Florence. We find in the
inventories of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth centuries ten or
twelve, sometimes twenty or more, chests mentioned, and even partly described,
but with them hardly a table or so much as a chair or stool. It may be in part
because this everyday furniture, especially in the Quattrocento, was so plain
and worthless that it was not particularly specified. But it is evident
what importance the chests had at that time and that these before all other
pieces they loved to have finished artistically.

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In fact the chest represented in Venice not only the wardrobe and com*
mode, but also in part the chair and table. Venetian chests were as a rule low,
with a flat top, and were used as benches to sit on ; occasionally, however, they
were very high, and then they were used as tables. The paintings and woodcuts
give a good idea of both. The conventional scant handling of the woodcut at
the end of the Quattrocento gives the furniture only in a very modelled and
rudimentary form; for the details we depend on the short descriptions in con-
temporary inventories and on conclusions drawn from the chests that we have
from the Cinquecento and contemporary Tuscan pieces, respectively. To go by
these, the early Venetian chests, when they were artistically finished, which in
the houses of the well-to-do often, if not mostly, was the case, were either
painted or decorated with inlaid work, the first, as a rule. The usual chests '
showed the arms of the owner and had ornamentation on a colored ground,
the finer ones being decorated with figure compositions. The rarer intarsia
chests, generally high and rectangular, were used as tables for the reception of
small objects, or to rest the hand on (compare 111. on page 7). Carved chests
were apparently rare in Venice until the beginning of the Cinquecento, and
they are found first in the last decades of the Quattrocento. As far as we can
judge by somewhat later pieces of the kind, and from the Venetian frames of
the end of the fifteenth century, these were embellished with delicate flat
candelabra and leaf ornament; yet, as in the frames, this was worked out in
plaster instead of in the characteristic carving that had been the rule. This
is shown in a number of beautiful chests with plaster ornament, that must
have originated in the beginning of the sixteenth century, and are now in the
Kaiser Friedrich-Museum and in the Victoria and Albert Museum (111. 94-96).
The jewel chest was particularly rich in execution. An excellently preserved
piece from the beginning of the Cinquecento, Gothic in its outside decoration,
is in the possession of the Berliner Kunstgewerbe-Museum (111. 93).

Next to the chest comes the low bench attached to the wall, as the usual •
seating furniture of the Venetian. In the hall and in the great room over it
these run along both sides, and there is a similar arrangement in the living-
rooms and bedrooms. Even at banquets they sat on these narrow wait benches,
the dining-table being drawn up to them. One long sids toward the middle of
the room was unoccupied in order that the servants might bring on the food
more conveniently. With these, sgabelli and stools are found only sparingly
and of simple form and execution; in the kitchen and the bedrooms they were
generally covered with woven straw and not seldom in the rooms even of the
palaces. The tables were equally simple, as a ruie only boards laid on trestles,
and covered with linen or Oriental carpets that might be removed at any time.
Large tables seem to have appeared first toward the end of the Quattrocento
and are related to the Florentine tables (111. 98). After that, through Sanso-
vino, Florentine art exercised a stronger influence over Venetian art craft
work, and the forms of the tables also resembled those of Florence more
closely (111. 99 and 100).

Wlith this movable or provisional furniture there were, as we see in the

29



illustrations, certain sumptuous pieces, chairs as well as tables, that were
found in the houses of some of the most prominent families (111. 101). Several
show pieces of the kind are known to everyone from Carpaccio's painting — St.
Jerome in his Study (111. 102). They have a very delicate appearance, as they
are mostly built of wood and metal together. The work-chair, with a small
writing-desk before it is built entirely of wood; it is, however, wholly covered
with a red material and richly decorated with brass knobs and balls. The
small writing-desk and its stand are constructed in the same way. The work
table, at which Jerome sits, has one side against the wall (so that it may
be put up) supported on bronze consoles, the other side rests on a very deli-
cate, richly jointed bronze leg. The top, like the bench and the platform, is
covered in stuff and decorated with gilded bronze nails. Models related to
these are found in other Venetian paintings, especially in those by Carpaccio.
Similar work-chairs, wholly of metal, seem, from the single pieces preserved
from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, not to have changed materially
since the Trecento. They have the usual X form, the legs and arms being of
iron, sometimes covered in stuff; the balls, feet, and joints are of brass or
gilded bronze (compare 111. 102).

Furniture ol this kind was as rare as the iron carved chair of Germany
in the sixteenth or seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth centuries,
or the silver tables and chairs that adorned the rooms of state in the town
residences of the princes in Germany and in the Northern kingdoms.

In the inventories of the time, that mentioned each chest, often giving a
short description, only exceptionally a table or a i'ew chairs appear. Thus in
1473 we find in the inheritance of a rich silk merchant twenty-three chests and
only four chairs. The plain stools and chairs had doubtless, as already men-
tioned, been passed over. All this shows, however, how important it was to
the Venetian, even more than to the Florentine, to keep the apartment roomy
and unencumbered, placing the furniture, as far as possible, close to the wall
or attached to it. Hence we do not find during the fifteenth century in Venice,
so far as I can see, even the rudiments of a cabinet, aside from the wall cupboard
— open or without doors — that was used for every sort of utensil and also lor
books. The credenza, even, does not appear at this time, nor yet before, at
least not in its perfected form, but only as a construction used for food, etc.,
like the dining-table put together with trestles, boards, and framework, a/.d
covered with linen or textile.

The most important piece in what was properly the living-room of the
family was, as everywhere in Italy, the bed. Hardly to be classed as furniture,
truly, being so large and massive that it must have been practically immovable.
In form and fittings the bed of the Venetian seems to have differed very little
from that of the Florentine. The head stood against the wall, while a step ran
around the remaining sides; this was high enough to be used as a bench and as
a chest. The stringboards were finished in rich profile work, higher at the back,
while the whole structure was richly fitted up and crowned with a baldachino
over the head. An excellent picture of a living-room with a bed, in a house of

30



some pretensions, is shown in a painting of the end of the fifteenth century,
by Carpaccio.

Among the sumptuous pieces the mirror was a great favorite in Venice
toward the end of the Quattrocento. These were of polished metal, therefore
small, but generally in elaborate broad frames and were shielded by a curtain
©f fine — usually Oriental — material. In Venice the round form, that was rare
in Florence, was preferred; the frame, with rich, delicate plant forms in low
relief, carved or pressed in a mould, were as a rule gilded. According to the
examples that we have (these also are from the transition of the fifteenth to
the sixteenth centuries, though they have a Quattrocento character) the decor-
ation of the mirror corresponds exactly to the Venetian frames; both were
certainly made in the same workshop. The mirror being a rarity, probably be-
cause the preparation of the polished metal was costly, it follows that only one
was ever mentioned in the inheritance inventories, and that they are not even
found in all the houses of wealthy people.

Another piece of wall furniture that was peculiar to Venice, is the restello,'
the rack. In the inventories it was often mentioned, occasionally also in the
wills, and from the description we see that it was a particularly valued piece
and that they took care to have it constructed in a most sumptuous manner.
Like the mirror, the restello was rare, and more than one was almost never
made for the same house. Unfortunately until now, only one, of Lombard
origin, is known to us; it is in the Bagatti collection in Milan. It has a half
Gothic form, so we are left very much in doubt as to the usual form and finish
of the restello. We owe what information we have to the highly praiseworthy
investigations of Dr. Gustav Ludwig, concerning the art and culture of Venice.
A significant piece of this kind was owned by the wealthy painter, Vincenzo
Catena, which was decorated with small allegorical paintings by his master,
Giovanni Bellini; it is now in the gallery of the Academy of Venice. Origin-
ally the mirror was attached to the restello. On the border that closes it below,
stood small antiques, bronze figures, candlesticks and the like, while under that
were hung at first, richly ornamented toilet articles, later, astrolabes and ves-
sels used in the Mass, as we see in St. Jerome's Study, by Carpaccio (compare
111. 103). Here the mouldings in the room in the foreground, as well as in the
small back room, run around, forming the finish to the textile wall covering
that takes the place of panelling, while the restello was properly a wall piece
that hung between paintings in the main room, so that the useful objects stand-'
ing on it might be close at hand if needed. We see something resembling
this in the well known portrait of Jorg Gysze, by Hans Holbein, in the Berlin
Gallery. As a last offshoot of this furniture we have the dainty hanging shelves
to consider; these are usually made of three boards resting on slender turned
columns. From Italy of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries we have
quite a number, and similar ones appear among us, in Germany.

For the Cinquecento we are better informed about the house furnishings
in Venice also, as a quantity of examples have been preserved, though by no
means in such great numbers as in Florence. As with painting and especially

31



with sculpture, art handicraft retained the style of the Quattrocento for two or
three decades almost unchanged, the only difference being a richer construc-
tion. The methods of decoration in use among the Lombardi, a family of sculp-
tors and architects, determined also the ornamentation of furniture. The
chests, like the mirror, and frames of all kinds, are covered over with delicate
plant ornament, as the young Lombardi, Antonio and Tullio, had perfected it.
The wall-back of the benches and the covering over the doors are made of fitted
Gobelins (the so-called verdure, with armorial bearings between small flowers
or bushes) ; Asiatic carpets bedeck the floors and lie over the tables, while Ori-
ental objects of all kinds, intermixed with bronzes of Paduan and Venetian
origin, ornament the shelves, as well as the door and chimney cornices. Paint-
ings that in earlier times were isolated and generally kept more as devotional
pieces, now hang in greater numbers on the walls, though indeed there are
even now only one or a few portraits, a Madonna picture, and occasionally a
mythological or allegorical composition. Picture galleries were in the first half
of the sixteenth century yet unknown in Venice; the tew collectors sought
before everything to bring together antique statues and other antiquities, small
works of art and curiosities of different kinds; with these only a small number
of paintings and large carvings appeared.

The wall tapestries that in large numbers decorated every fine house in
Venice were manifestly, the great majority of them, of Netherland origin; the
arms of the families, that many of them bear, are not woven in, but embroid-
ered on, which method was first used in Venice. Of the earliest "verdure" that
has been preserved to us and that has come from the different palaces of Ven-
ice and its environs, only rarely is a piece ascertained to be Venetian work.
From representations of such wall tapestries that we see in contemporary paint-
ings, especially by Carpaccio, we can best learn about their arrangement. Large
Netherland tapestries, arazzi, were at that time a great rarity and were at first
devoted only to the embellishment of churches and public buildings. In the
course of the Cinquecento we also find them, and indeed in whole series, in the
living-rooms of the Venetian merchants. With the Gobelins a wall covering of
close woven material of one color, made of a mixture of linen and wool, was
very much used in Venice, where they covered the lower part of the walls, that
in the North at this time was frequently panelled in wood, and later in Italy
also. Rich materials, especially the deep red velvet, came into general use in
the course of the sixteenth century; this gave to the rooms a remarkably
sumptuous and an unusually comfortable air, as the deep, almost neutral tone
was not in any way obtrusive. On the other hand we find leather wall covering
in Venice from the middle of the Quattrocento; it was called cuoi d'oro be-


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