Sotheby’s to Auction Property From The Piedmontese Villa

Sotheby’s London will offer for sale on Tuesday, November 17, 2009 an exquisite selection of fine Piedmontese furniture and works of art from the Vigna Corte di Bonvicino – a charming 18th-century villa situated in the hills outside Turin. Representing the finest Piedmontese craftsmanship of the 18th-century, the selection of 204 lots from the villa, estimated to fetch in excess of a million pounds, paint an elegant and refined picture of 18th-century Italian courtly life. From beautifully carved giltwood furniture, to elegant gilt and crystal chandeliers, to fabulous faience and paintings of the period, the contents of Vigna Corte show 18th-century Italian craftsmanship at its very best. Such is the quality of the pieces to be sold that many are closely related to examples in the Royal residences House of Savoy of Turin and Piedmont.

PiedmonteseMario Tavella, Sotheby’s Deputy Chairman, Europe, and Head of Single Owner Sales, comments: “The Vigna Corte and its contents are as impressive as the landscape that surrounds them. It is an enormous pleasure for me to have the opportunity to handle property of such quality, importance and charm. After the international excitement that surrounded Sotheby’s recent sale in Florence of property from the Romano family, we are thrilled to be bringing yet more very fine Italian property to the market.”

Lovingly and painstakingly restored to the glory of the days when the villa was home to the illustrious Count Giuseppe Iganazio (erstwhile Prime Minister of Internal Affairs at the Court of Savoy), the villa has in recent times enjoyed a special status as a showcase for the best in Piedmontese craftsmanship. The 18th-century ‘vigne’ – or villas – in the hills outside Turin were for the most part built by courtiers in the entourage of Vittorio Amedeo II (who reigned from 1713), all eager to build fittingly impressive residences – or rather hunting lodges – close to that of their King. Their furnishings were correspondingly beautiful and lavish, as the forthcoming sale illustrates.

The surrounding valley encapsulated elegance, and as well as becoming one of the preferred locations for the Court entourage, exponents of the arts were also drawn to this part of Piedmont, among them the painter Loenardo Marini, Court designer and Lorenzo Pecheux, as well as other painters and directors from the Academy of Art. When Jean Jacques Rousseau visited the area around the Vigna Corte in the mid-eighteenth century, he described the views that greeted him as “the fairest picture which the human eye can see”.

Highlights in the sale include a polychrome painted and parcel-gilt mirror, attributed to Giuseppe Maria Bonzanigo (lot 14, est: £70,000-100,000*). Official woodcarver to Victor-Amadeus III, the King of Savoy, Bonzanigo is and was celebrated for the sculptural quality of works. One of the leading Italian furnituremakers, sculptors and ornamentalists of his day, he supplied numerous important pieces to each of the royal residences, including, of course, the Royal Palace in Turin.

From the selection of giltwood furniture to be included in the sale – much of it executed by carvers from the circle of the celebrated Giuseppe Bonzanigo – a set of six Italian carved giltwood and ochre painted chairs will feature (lot 10, est: £25,000-40,000), most probably made by the same furniture maker who provided an important armchair for the Royal Palace in Turin. In addition, a suite of ivory painted and two-tone gilt seat furniture (lot 27), attributed to maestro minusiere Bartolomeo Manghetti, Turin, late 18th-century is estimated at £20,000-40,000.

A beautiful Italian carved gilt-wood and gesso four-leaf screen, in the manner of Giuseppe Maria Bonzanigo, Turin, late 18th-century (lot 18) is estimated at £15,000-25,000.

A Piedmontese large carved and painted wood portrait of an aristocrat and frame, signed by Giuseppe Maria Bonzanigo, late 18th-century (lot 29) is estimated at £12,000-18,000.

A pair of ivory painted and parcel-gilt stools, Turin, late 18th-century (lot 17, est: £12,000-18,000). An armchair from the same suite is housed in the Royal Palace of Genoa, and identical stools are with the Royal Hunting Lodge of Stupinigi.

A set of ten 18th-century, Genoese carved giltwood and caned chairs (lot 127) is estimated £35,000-50,000), once in the collection of the Marquis Serra in Genoa.

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