About this artwork
In 1832 the painter Filippo Pelagio Palagi was appointed director of the Academy of Design in Turin, Italy, by Carlo Alberto, King of Sardinia, who also commissioned Palagi to redecorate a royal residence, Palazzo Racconigi. Palagi was responsible for the interior design, including the walls, ceilings, mantels and doorways, and also for the palace furniture, including a suite of six side chairs, four armchairs, and two sofas. The Art Institute’s side chair comes from this set.
Palagi used late-Neoclassical motifs in original ways on this furniture. The crest of the chair rail is adorned with three-dimensional carving of palmettes and lotuses, inspired by natural forms but arranged in such a way as to give an almost military rigor to the design. The inlaid friezes below repeat the palmette motif and also incorporate sinuous vines and tendrils. Thanks to the survival of the original dark blue and white upholstery on several of the pieces and the discovery of a panel of the original fabric in the Musée des Tissus (Museum of Fabrics) in Lyons, France, the original upholstery is reproduced here. The fabric on the seat shows a lyre flanked by swans, while the fabric on the chair back displays a large rosette framed by a border of leaves—all motifs that have time-honored associations with beauty, poetry, and classical culture.
- Filipo Pelagio Palagi (Designer)
- Side Chair
- Mahogany, maple, and modern reproduction upholstery
- 100 × 52.7 × 55.3 cm (39 3/8 × 20 7/8 × 21 3/4 in.)
- Gift of the Antiquarian Society through Jessie Spaulding Landon, Mrs. J. T. Pirie, Mrs. Arthur S. Bowes, and Mrs. Clive S. Runnells