An Italian chinoiserie six-panel painted canvas screen, mid-18th century, probably Piedmont. photo Sotheby's
height 83 in.; length 168 in.; width of each leaf 28 in. (211 cm; 427 cm; 71.1 cm). Est. 40,000 - 60,000 USD
PROVENANCE: Baron Paul de Becker, Paris
Rosenberg &Stiebel, New York, 1953
LITERATURE: F. J. B. Watson, The Wrightsman Collection, 1966, Vol. III, p. 291, no. 291
NOTE: Piedmont, more than any region in Italy, developed a distinct chinoiserie style throughout the 17th and 18th century.
Numerous Royal and noble residences (such as Palazzo Reale, Stupinigi, Villa Regina) of the Kingdom of Savoy witnessed the skills and the inventiveness of the local artisans and designers, whose creations remain unparalleled if compared to what was produced in other Italian regions. In a way Piedmont surpassed even Venice in this particular theme.
This magnificent screen clearly derives from the Chinese eighteenth century examples and the depicted scenes have been surely inspired by oriental wall paper depicting scenes of daily life.
Several names are recorded of artists who worked in the style so-called 'alla china.' For example Christian Werlin and Pietro Massa to name a few, and new names are surfacing as the research progresses in this domain.
It is worthwhile to note that the collections of Museo Civico d'Arte Antica e Palazzo Madama, Turin contain albums of designs by Wehrlin which clearly show a resemblance with the cockerels and vases of flowers depicted on the border of the present screen (Lucia Caterina, Cristina Mossetti, Villa delle Regina, Il Riflesso dell'Oriente nel Piemonte del Settecento, Allemandi, Torino, 2005, plates XXXV, no.9, p. 92 and no. 14, p. 94.)
Also see the designs (Livre de dessins chinois) by the French painter JeanAntoine Fraisse, (L. Caterina, C. Mossetti, op. cit. pl. XIV, XV, XXXV) preserved in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris which may have inspired the artists in nearby Piedmont.
Sotheby's. Property from the Collection of Mrs. Charles Wrightsman: The London Residence. 28 Apr 10. New York. www.sothebys.com