A three-seat settee possibly from a set commissioned for the Palazzo Borghese in Rome c.1725 has come to light and is offer at Robin Martin Antiques for a five figure sum.
The original suite comprised two settees and 22 side chairs, but its origins are not clear. It re-emerged following a contents sale of the palazzo in 1892 and was considered an ‘English rediscovery’ as it resembled George II period seating. Much of it was sold to London.
Over the years, opinion changed and more recently the entire suite was thought to have been made in Rome.
Examples of the chairs are held at the Lady Lever Art Gallery and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, but the piece in question may be the sole surviving settee.
Examining the construction and design of the piece, particularly the underside, has led the dealer to suggest it may be English after all.
There is later gilding over the original surface, but the first layer decoration is visible in some areas and it could possibly be restored to the original scarlet lacquer and gilt scheme.