My Mazamet

Life at № 42

From a 2014 Sale: An Italian green and gilt-japanned chinoiserie bureau cabinet, Venetian, circa 1750

bureauvenice

“This striking bureau cabinet, decorated with chinoiserie scenes imitating Oriental lacquer, takes its inspiration from the form of early 18th century Anglo-Dutch examples, which quickly took root as important pieces of furniture in the grand palaces of the Venetian aristocracy and rising merchant class.

The demand for Oriental lacquer far outstripped supply and soon European cabinet-makers started to produce their own imitations of Chinese and Japanese lacquer. From the 16th century, lacquerware inspired by Oriental models was produced in Venice and the taste for lacquer furniture reached its zenith in the 18th century, with Venice being pre-eminent in its production.”

Source: cabinets/cupboards ||| sotheby’s l14305lot7ddkwen

Isn’t that magnificent? I’m a huge fan of Italian painted furniture. The North produced really glorious, interesting and whimsical pieces. Over the weekend I’ll be posting pictures of a really charming Venetian console table done in the same technique which is often referred to as lacca povera or arte povera. Technically that only referred to pieces where prints were applied to wood furniture, then gilt or painted, then varnished repeatedly (until it looked like lacquer) – but the term is now a catch-all that refers to anything resembling lacquer-ware which was made in Northern Italy. The prices these pieces command at auction are partly their rarity, and partly the finesse of the combination of gilding with a masterful use of colour.

The Italians (like the Spanish and Portuguese) were rather magnificent at gilding. The process whereby real metal leaf is applied to furniture using an adhesive base (rabbit skin glue for the good stuff.) This creates a wonderful reflective surface. When you look at gold metal, you think you’re seeing gold, but in reality you’re seeing a whole range of other colours reflected in the metal, all bathing in a golden glow. People have attempted to reproduce that effect in modern times, but have consistently failed. In the Belle Epoque era they came up with the idea of mixing aluminium particles with paint, a precursor to the more recent version of metal particles in resin/varnish. The result comes nowhere close to gilding because the visual effect of the real thing is metallic shine whereas paints and varnishes are read by the eye as a single, solid colour. Not to mention the fact that real gold is stable. Like real platinum it doesn’t tarnish which means you don’t need to dull the metallic shine with varnishes or waxes.

When you combine the reflective metal effect with a good colour, you end up with something almost magical.

Image result for lacca povera gilt console

Pair of Italian Venetian (late 18th / early 19th Cent) green and decorated painted & parcel gilt console tables with lacca povera detail having a scalloped apron & serpentine top

Image result for lacca povera parcel gilt

Italian chinoiserie red lacquered and parcel-gilt chairs, Venetian, second quarter 18th century

Image result for lacca povera table

A NORTH ITALIAN LACCA POVERA SMALL CENTRE TABLE VENICE, MID-18TH CENTURY

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28 comments on “From a 2014 Sale: An Italian green and gilt-japanned chinoiserie bureau cabinet, Venetian, circa 1750

  1. acflory
    March 2, 2018

    Bloody hell, Pinky. You really know your stuff. Not that I ever doubted you but…wow. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      March 2, 2018

      I’ve always suffered from pretty face syndrome 😀 Either people think I don’t think or don’t work… or both!

      Liked by 1 person

      • acflory
        March 3, 2018

        -grin- Don’t worry your pretty little head about it?
        I hope I didn’t come across as patronising. I’ve always known you were smart, but being an expert in a field is something else. I am impressed.

        Re your looks. One of the nice things about going grey is that people take me a little more seriously now. Or maybe I’m just so crabby they don’t dare be patronising any more.
        Trust me, there are compensations to maturity. 😀

        Liked by 2 people

      • The Pink Agendist
        March 3, 2018

        When I first started working I grew a beard and always wore glasses – and I thought that by my 30’s things would change, but no. I suppose I have a manner that implies I stay in bed all day 🙂

        Like

      • acflory
        March 3, 2018

        -giggles- Do you? Just kidding!

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        March 3, 2018

        HA! Well, I don’t wake up to drive to work early in the morning 😛

        Like

      • acflory
        March 4, 2018

        Of course not. You’re properly civilised. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • metan
        March 3, 2018

        I love people underestimating me, it’s like a quiet superpower, you wait until their soft underbelly is exposed then destroy them. 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Tish Farrell
    March 2, 2018

    Such sumptuousness. Oh, those Venetian console tables…stuff of dreams.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      March 2, 2018

      And there’s just something bright and “happy” about this stuff. You walk into a room with one of these pieces and you can’t help but smile.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. jim-
    March 2, 2018

    I’m just trying to find a spot for that in my cabin. But then again, I may have to sell the place to buy the piece! That’s really beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Pink Agendist
      March 2, 2018

      Are you in America or central America? How often are you going back and forth? And is it related to drug trafficking 😀 and if so, do you give discounts to online friends? 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • jim-
        March 2, 2018

        I resemble that comment. How dare you and the professor Taboo come to such conclusion. I am in Washington this winter, state that is, and like to divide my time equally. But this year I am building a new house for my daughter up here in the mountains, and I’m missing my Panamanian friends as I slog through a long and snowy winter (besides, harvest is at the end of summer and my duffle is empty) shhh

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Pink Agendist
        March 2, 2018

        How exciting! So when you say cabin, you mean it. If you ever have a moment, post some pictures, I’m a construction enthusiast.

        Liked by 1 person

      • jim-
        March 2, 2018

        Will do.

        Like

      • The Pink Agendist
        March 2, 2018

        comment deleted, will email this evening…

        Liked by 1 person

  4. poshbirdy
    March 2, 2018

    Beautiful. And totally love the chairs – so OTT x

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Steve Ruis
    March 2, 2018

    Cultural appropriation, cultural appropriation! (If you have to ask, don’t. It is part of the American experience as we descend into our own delusions.)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. foolsmusings
    March 2, 2018

    Wow. Those are really cool. (ok so I’ll probably never make it as an antiques expert :p)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Kris Jennings
    March 3, 2018

    I’m pretty sure that’s the only time chinoiserie has been used in a blog headline.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on March 2, 2018 by in art, design and tagged , , , , .
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