Italian Neoclassical Period Painted Hall Bench

(Italy, 18th Century)

Italian Neoclassical Period Painted Hall Bench
1610 Bissonet Street
Houston, TX, 77005
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Italian Neoclassical Period Painted Hall Bench


A Neoclassical period Tuscan hall bench with the original hand carved and painted surface from an aristocratic residence in Italy c.1780. This superb example of late eighteenth century furniture making skill is a relevant piece of furniture today in the twenty-first century. Originally this piece was in the entry hall of a palazzo in Tuscany where visitors would have been immediately conversant with both its amazing painted decoration as well as its function. Designed to be seen from both sides as well as the front this hall bench features a balanced and symmetrical approach both to its form and decoratively painted surface.

The upper section has a marvelously carved and gilded crown that serves to frame the entire piece muck like the crown moulding an a room. The different sections of the moulding all relate to each other in scale and design while combining to create a harmonious effect. Note that the moulding is largest and deepest at the top and then tapers down and in as it reaches the upright section of the back.

There is a pilaster topped with an elaborately carved and gilded capital placed to the left and right of the central enclosed section that again serves to give the bench an architectural feel while being decoratively luxurious. Beneath each pilaster and extending from the back to the front of the bench are a pair of armrests that each contain a long and slender drawer opened by pulling on the original knob.

An important aspect of this bench to notice is the use of carved and gilded moulding detail that surrounds each of the separate sections that comprise the entire piece. Below the crown the horizontal section, then the large square section in the centre and then the tops of each arm are differentiated by the edges embellished with carving and gilding.

The lower section is an adaptation of a trunk with a lid that lifts up from the front with its original iron hinges visible at the rear of the seat. The entire front edge as well as both sides are distinguished by the original carved and gilded pattern with a neoclassical tear drop design that relates stylistically to the crown at the top of the piece. Beneath this upper edge is a section directly beneath it that is recessed but whose carving is bolder in order to provide a sense of weight to the base in proportion to the top section.

The base of the bench stands upon a plinth base taken directly from the ancient classical civilizations of Rome and Greece and utilized here to provide a scalloped series of steps that ground the entire piece.

After noticing all of these structural components that create such an imposing and attractive bench the real show and star is the original painted finish that identifies this piece as a splendid piece of late eighteenth century tuscan furniture. Please look at the light and deft touch of the artist whose skillful application of the painted motifs give a level of charm and delight.

All of the panels on the base-the three on the front and each panel on the two sides all enclose a painted surface adorned with swags and figures placed in a symmetrical manner. The large central rectangular panel on the front of the base is centered upon an oval medallion flanked with stylized winged motif and is topped with a basket of fruit that always symbolizes abundance and wealth. Placed directly beneath the medallion above the plinth base are a pair of facing scrolls that provide additional balance and symmetry.

Each of the drawer fronts on the upper section have a painted vase while the inside and the outside of both arms also are highlighted with the same type of painting seen elsewhere. Both of the reserves within the pilasters also feature similar painting as does the horizontal section at the top beneath the crown.

The colours used have a luminous quality and it is interesting to note that only the flat section of the seat and its lift lid are a solid colour that shoes the signs of age and wear appropriate to a piece of this age.

The last feature of this piece that gives it such a unique appearance is the centre section in the back that is covered with a contemporary cloth in a stripe design and complementary colours.

Please look at the provided photographs of the back to see that the panel that supports the cloth is original to the bench and that only the cloth has been replaced. This is quite common in eighteenth century pieces as cloth shows the passage of time most readily. Of course this means that this cloth may be replaced with any other cloth or perhaps a section of tooled leather in a complementary colour. We are happy to help explore these options if desired.

The bench has an upper and lower section for ease of movement and was originally constructed in this way.

This antique bench is extraordinarily rare and will become a focal point no matter where it is placed in a contemporary interior.

Please use the zoom feature on our website to see the various sections that comprise the entirety of this piece and the elegance of its execution by the original artisans.

WIDTH: 50½ in | HEIGHT: 62 in | DEPTH: 22½ in

Origin Italy
Category Benches
Period 18th Century
Style Neoclassical

Shipping Estimate: $500 | White glove

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THB REF: 1135428679 DEALER REF: EEJ681


" Please remember that when this bench was first created and placed within its original home the level of lighting in the interior was achieved by solely natural means. A fire blazing in a hearth and candles burning in wall mounted sconces, free standing candle stands as well as overhead chandeliers provided the light necessary to see within a space. Only those families with great means could afford to lavish the work necessary to create a piece like this bench and ensure that it would be seen and appreciated. "