Pair of Venetian lacquer consoles


Italy, Venice.


First half of 18th Century, circa 1730-1740.


Dimensions :

Height : 33 in.

Width :  37.2 in.

Depth :  22.8 in.


Following the reign of Louis XIV, the second quarter of the XVIIIth century in Europe is known for the peace and the fast. During this time, all the European countries imitated the French lifestyle. Clothes, architectures, furniture, are in the taste of what happens in Paris; city where all the glances turn in eager to acquire this French elegance and perfection.

Although, we saw the passion, which begins at the end of the previous century, for everything that comes from Eastern countries, thanks to the powerful East Indian Companies. No other city was more receptive as Venice, who took both of the influences and succeeds.


The two consoles we proposed were made in this revival and artistic effervescence; they are the most perfect illustration of what one names nowadays: the Venetians complications. In rectangular form, this two consoles present removable plate with curved edges underlined by an “enrubannée” belt of gilded leaves.

The straight feet are delicately sculpted with falls of leaves. The front and the side of the belt are decorated with an exceptional carved ornament in relief and represents architecture and tools in the Chinese style. Asymmetrical and gilded shells, from where escape different flowers, fruits and leaves lacquer, underline it. The whole has four quadrangular feet in “gaine”, slightly tapering with capitals and shoes with ring gilded.


This pair of consoles has a dark green lacquer named “patiné bronze” in order to reveal the paintings of the plates and the feet. Indeed, some delicates leaves are used as an ornament for feet, while animated scenes of landscapes and characters decorating the centre of the plates with gilded frame and scroll. The unit is realized in the Chinese taste and decorated with polychrome flowers bouquets.


The mobility of their plates, inspired by tables in cabaret, and the particular drawing of their feet, are the revealing of a French influence; while the themes of the scenes indicates an interpretation of certain collections of engravings of the beginning of the XVIIIth century, themselves inspired by the iconography of screens and cabinets of lacquer of China and Japan (see in particular German designer’s projects of illustrated in H. Huth, Lacquer of the West, The History of has Craft and year Industry 1550-1950, Chicago, 1971, fig. 10a and 10b). Treatment of decoration enamelled is a demonstration of skill of Venetian artists of this time, called “depentore”, thanks to this exceptional talent, they can rival Parisian varnishers and sometimes, as it is the case for our pair of consoles, to overtop Eastern lacquers.


If one considers on the one hand, time necessary for the creation of such piece of furniture, and on the other hand, if we consider their high cost, no doubt that they were intended to a powerful client, probably descended from one of famous aristocratic families of Venice. This supposition seems to be corroborated by the identification of a third console, with same composition and size to those presented, preserved in a Milanese private collection (S. LEVY, Lacche Veneziane Settecentesche, volume I, De Agostini, Novara, boards 220 and 221).

Thanks to this discovery, we can better apprehend the appointments of the piece for which they were certainly created: obviously it was a gallery with four windows between which consoles were laid out.


In Venice, such an installation met exclusively only in the palates with look on the lagoon, as properties of the powerful families of the city. We can try to find a beginning of explanation in the account of president de Brosses, reporting his visit of the Labia Palate and raising the artistic taste of his fantastically wealthy owner (Charles de Brosses, Familiar Letters, 1739). At all events, the scarcity and the precocity of such furniture dip back us three centuries behind, between the refinement of the mysterious East and the elegance of the city of the Doges.