An auction will be held by Pandolfini in the Palazzo Ramirez Montalvo, Florence, at 15.30 local time on Wednesday 16 November. It includes some extremely fine Renaissance, Mannerist and Baroque frames amongst paintings, sculpture, furniture, bronzes and maiolica ‘from a Florentine collection’. Some of them are illustrated here, and you can see the entire catalogue online and in digital book form.
Lot 1: Aedicular looking-glass frame with sliding cover, Florence, first decades 16th century; carved and parcel-gilt walnut with engaged fluted columns with foliate capitals; the entablature, plinth and inner frame enriched with leaf tip, dentils and egg-&-dart; the frieze with scrolling foliage and florets supporting a cartouche on a textured ground; the shutter with scrolled handles is decorated in mordant gilding picked out in black with an inscribed scroll, urns and birds; it protects a a mirrored speculum plate; overall dimensions 44.5 x 43 cm., sight 22.2 x 19 cm.; antique hanger; est.: €6,000-9,000
See more in ‘Curtains and covers on secular paintings and looking-glasses’.
Lot 2: Garland tondo looking-glass, Siena, last quarter 15th century, possibly from the workshop of Antonio di Neri Barili (or Barile) of Siena (1453-1516); carved giltwood and polychrome, with tied volutes around the contour on a punched ground; the crest with a larger pair of tied volutes and two winged morphing sphinxes supporting a missing motif (a leaf-bud or an urn of fruit); the apron with painted armorial bearings on a cartouche supported by winged and morphing beings on a punched ground; convex fish-scale moulding; torus carved with a garland of fruit, flowers and foliage on the central frieze between punched borders, the garland springing in two branches from tied baskets and meeting in a central rosette at the top; braided moulding at the sight edge; 57 x 40 cm.; lacking its mirrored plate; est: €4,000-6,000
Compare with the more coarsely-carved looking-glass frame with the Cinuzzi family coat of arms at the base in the Lehman Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art; and with the slightly later example in the Liechtenstein Collection (first quarter 16th century, possibly also by Barili).
Lot 3: Aedicular looking-glass frame, Tuscan, first decades of the 16th century; carved and parcel-gilt walnut with engaged fluted columns with florets; the entablature, plinth and inner frame enriched with leaf tip, dentils and egg-&-dart; the frieze with applied carved rosettes to each side, missing decoration on the centre of the panel; lacking its mirrored plate; sight 23.5 x 17 cm., remains of antique hanger, est: €4,000-6,000
Lot 15: Tabernacle frame for a Madonna and Child, late 15th century, Siena; carved giltwood and polychrome; with a pitched pediment supported on fluted pilasters with Corinthian capitals; the entablature and pediment decorated with painted egg-&-dart, fluting and Vitruvian scrolls; the pediment bearing Christ’s monogram in a flaming sun on a blue ground (as often displayed by images of St Bernardino of Siena); the frieze inscribed ‘AVE MARIA GRAT[IA]’ on a blue ground; the frieze of the plinth painted with scrolling foliage, flowers, cosses-de-pois, flaming torches and an urn of fruit on a blue ground between cream scalloped bands; the base with florets and fleurs-de-lys; the apron carved with acanthus leaves supporting a cartouche with the armorial bearings of the Rocchi family of Siena beneath a classical tablet inscribed ‘PAX VOBIS[CUM]’ in white on a red ground; overall dimensions 139 x 75.5 cm, sight 60.5 x 43.5 cm., est.: €3,000-5,000
Lot 17: Mannerist looking-glass frame, Tuscan, third quarter 16th century; carved and polished wood, with an exaggerated flaring concave entablature decorated with flutes breaking into the cornice moulding façade; S-scrolling brackets terminating in paws supporting the lateral rails; the base held on paired plinths with oval panels beside a central mascaron in the shape of a monkey with a moustache of feathers and what appear to be glass eyes; the inner frame with fillet, scotia and beading at the sight edge; lacking its mirrored plate; 58 x 45.5 cm., sight 30 x 23.4 cm., est.: €3,000-5,000
Lot 19: Stemma or coat of arms of the Cecchi family (Cecchi del cane), Florence, about 1520/1525, by Giovanni della Robbia (1469 – 1529/1530); polychrome glazed terracotta tondo with garland frame; the garland modelled with pine cones, pine fans and a lizard, pears and a snail, small cucumbers, oranges, almonds, grapes and vine leaves, plums, quinces, more plums and almonds, pomegranates and lemons, all bearing a NeoPlatonic symbolism related to the growth and harmony expressed by the Renaissance cultivation of gardens, and also influenced by contemporary scientific interest in the natural world; egg-&-dart moulding; a fluted shell bearing the coat of arms: a white dog on a yellow mountain on an azure ground; diam. 68 cm., est.: €70,000-120,000
Compare the signed stemma on the Palazzo Pretorio, Piazza P. Pellegrini, Pieve Santo Stefano (where there may have been a Della Robbia workshop), and those in the Contini Bonacossi Collection, Gallerie degli Uffizi.
For more on garland frames, see ‘Fruit, flowers, foliage: the symbolism of Renaissance frames’, and ‘The tondo frame in Renaissance Florence: a round-up’.
Lot 29: Proto-Mannerist looking-glass frame, tabernacle form, Florence, 1530s; carved walnut, with fluted pilasters supporting a deep entablature with leaf-tips, convex frieze of flutes, dentils and acanthus; supporting a crest with a central cloaked or winged figure described as a harpy (although this usually symbolizes evil and seems unlikely in this context) but probably a Victory or nike, with two helmeted heads of bearded warriors (Saracens?); the apron supported by dragons or flying serpents holding a cartouche with armorial bearings against a spray of plumes; the inner frame with egg-&-dart, metopes and triglyphs, and leaf-tips; overall dimensions 64 x 35.5 cm., sight 17.2 x 13.5 cm., est.: €4,000-6,000
Compare the spirit of the crest and apron of the Florentine looking-glass frame in the Lehman Collection, Metropolitan Museum.
Lot 30: Mannerist looking-glass frame with sliding cover, Florence, c.1530-50; carved walnut, parcel-gilt and polychrome; fluted ogee inner frame supporting an entablature with triglyphs and guttae (with beading between), and pendant bosses in the spaces for metopes, leaf-tips above; with scrolled and scrolling lateral brackets incorporating the handle of the slide; with a shaped plinth with centred gadroons above and a Greek fret on the concave moulding below; the shutter decorated with an incised oval within spandrels, holding a painted and gilded scrolling strapwork cartouche containing the arms of the Nerli and Guicciardini families of Florence; lacking the mirrored panel; overall dimensions 59 x 50 cm., sight 35.2 x 29.8 cm., est.: €4,000-6,000
See more in ‘Curtains and covers on secular paintings and looking-glasses’.
Lot 31: Mannerist tabernacle frame with a military trophy, mid-16th century, Florence; carved and parcel-gilt walnut, with an inner frame with stopped channel fluting on a convex moulding; a narrow frieze with metopes and triglyphs; leaf-tips at the sight edge; supporting an entablature with a fluted convex moulding with a concave moulding above containing cassettes with rosettes; the crest comprising a pyramidal formation of banners, a drum, shields, quiver of arrows, axe and sword, with a central roundel containing the mask of Ares, and surmounted by a helmet; lateral brackets carved into cherubs’ profiles in ruffs of feathers, winged above and below; the plinth carved with acanthus above and fish-scales on the concave moulding below; the apron pierced and carved with a broken scroll-ended tablet containing a moustachioed mask with vast ears and swooping draperies issuing from his open mouth to thread in trompe l’oeil through the spandrels at the end of the tablet; overall dimensions 79.5 x 47.5 cm, sight 21.2 x 18.2 cm., est.: €5,000-8,000
See more in ‘Trophy frames’.
Lot 57: Giltwood and polychrome cassetta, first half 16th century; with fillet and stepped cavetti; the frieze decorated with an incised and punchwork foliated interlace with central panels of sgraffito arabesques on a black ground; astragal-&-triple bead; dentils at the sight edge; overall dimensions 86.5 x 75 cm., sight 61 x 49 cm., est.: €1,500-2,500
Lot 58: Late Mannerist frame, 17th century, possibly Lombardy; giltwood and polychrome; carved in the form of a cassetta with outset corners and the top centre panel outset; with leaf-tips beneath the top edge; the frieze decorated with fine-veined green faux marbre on the reposes, with shaped panels of scrolling foliage and sunflowers in mordant gilding on a black ground at the centres and corners, the outset corners mounted with applied roses painted dark red (possibly for the Virgin); the centres of the top and lateral indents with voluted S-scrolls, the sides with shells; with guttae at the base of the lower outset corners; the bottom with double foliate scrolls supporting a cartouche with a coat of arms on a heart-shaped shield; overall dimensions 75.5 x 54.5 cm., sight 42.2 x 27 cm.; est.: €1,500-2,500
Lot 71: Italian Renaissance giltwood cassetta, 16th-17thcentury; with a complex series of stepped, concave, convex and ogee mouldings at the top and sight edges; the frieze decorated overall with a grid of which the diagonal half of each square is picked out in punchwork, giving a trompe l’oeil effect of raised nailhead mouldings, the corners with foliate motifs on a punched ground; overall dimensions 124.5 x 107.5 cm., sight 88 x 73 cm., est.: €2,000-3,000
L. Dami, ‘Cornici da specchio del cinquecento’, in Dedalo, March MCMXXI, year I, fasc. X
G. Morazzoni, Le cornici veneziane, Milan, 1949
T.J. Newbery, G. Bisacca, L.B. Kanter, Italian Renaissance frames, New York, 1990
F. Sabatelli (ed.), La cornice italiana dal Rinascimento al Neoclassico, Milan, 2004
M. Tinti, Il mobilio fiorentino, 1928
For the Della Robbia roundel:
I. Ciseri, Museo Nazionale del Bargello. La raccolta delle robbiane, Florence, 2012, pp. 188-189 n. 66, pp. 210-223 nos. 76-78, pp. 228-231 nos. 81-82
E. Ceramelli Papiani, Blasoni delle famiglie toscane, ms. sec. XX, Archivio di Stato di Firenze, fasc. 1367
R. Dionigi, Stemmi robbiani in Italia e nel mondo. Per un catalogo araldico, storico e artistico, Florence, 2014, pp. 169-170 nos. 137-138, p. 225 n. 237, p. 239 n. 270, p. 258 n. 313
G. Gentilini, I Della Robbia. La scultura invetriata nel Rinascimento, Firenze 1992
A. Marquand, Robbia Heraldry, Princeton 1919
A. Marquand, Giovanni della Robbia, Princeton 1920