A rich floral composition with a classic vase, made of carved and gilded wood, is placed on a panel with a light blue background. The whole is enclosed in an oval frame with several orders, surmounted by the royal crown and the Savoy coat of arms lacquered in red and white.
Dimensions: cm. 156x110x15
During the 19th century, continuous renovations and interventions of mise a jour affected the various Savoy residences.
Through inventories and payment notes, scholars have been able to partially reconstruct its route, revealing to us how some of these environments were reused and integrated with fashion updates, or simply modified due to a new destination.
Roberto Antonetto has well documented, for example, the renovation works that took place at the Palazzo Reale in Turin at the hands of Gabriele Capello who, in the 1830s-40s, even put his hand to the rooms created in the previous century by Pietro Piffetti. A payment note to Gabriele Capello dated 1833, documents the removal of two wall shelves made by Pietro Piffetti in 1731 for the Cabinet of the Queen’s Pregadio. These were used by Capello a century later to create a two-door cabinet by superimposing them (Antonetto pages 149-151).
The work examined here is the result of a similar orientation.
The frame, stylistically, belongs, in fact, to the rearrangement supervised by Pelagio Palagi, in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Therefore intended for the royal collections, it contains an important carving from the 18th century.
The most important engravers of Turinese neoclassicism, and therefore deserving of this homage, were Francesco Bolgè (1752-1834) and Giuseppe Maria Bonzanigo (1745-1820). The court commissioned many works from both of them which often, in the absence of precise archival indications, are not easy to distinguish. The plans, in fact, were normally supplied by the Royal Court Architect, Giovan Battista Piacenza and his collaborators, even if we are certain that Bonzanigo personally designed some of the furnishings. The fame that the latter gained, especially in the early nineteenth century, when he dedicated himself to the creation of micro-intaglio works, overshadowed the fame of his rival Bolgè. In the twentieth century many of his works were, in fact, erroneously attributed to Bonzanigo and only the latest updated studies based on the inventories have allowed us to re-evaluate their greatness.
The first of the two architects to be introduced to the court was Bolgè. Bonzanigo was hired at a later time with a lower salary but with the precise qualification of carver (he is, in fact, enrolled in the Accademia di San Luca). The court payment notes, however, show how the distinctive qualities of the two menusieri were well known. Bolgè was entrusted with the creation of a greater number of commodes, consoles and trumò; vice versa, Bonzanigo was entrusted with everything that required a higher capacity for minute carving, a distinctive feature of seats, screens and appliques.
A direct comparison of the object in question allows us to find clear assonances between these flowers and those carved in some works by Bonzanigo; look, for example, at those made for the festoons that decorate the precious screen conserved in the Palazzo Reale in Turin.
Beyond any comparison, Bonzanigo’s fame in the 19th century was such that it must be assumed that this carving was chosen as his own creation.
If all this today is not sufficient to confirm its attribution, the desire to keep it still testifies to the high quality of this carving work.
• Roberto Antonetto, Il mobile piemontese nel settecento, ed. Umberto Allemandi 2010
• Vittorio Viale, Mostra del Barocco piemontese, vol III Mobili e intagli, ed. arti grafiche fratelli Pozzo-Salviati-Gros Monti e C. 1964
• Roberto Antonetto, Gabriele Capello “Moncalvo” ebanista di due re, ed. Umberto Allemandi 2004
• Enrico Colle, Il mobile neoclassico in Italia, ed. Electa 2005
• Giancarlo Ferraris, giuseppe Maria Bonzanigo e la scultura decorativa in legno a Torino nel periodo neoclassico(1770-1830),ed. Fondazione Accorsi 1991