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  • Place of origin:

    Venice, Italy (made)

  • Date:

    1580-1600 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved walnut, partly gilt

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Medieval and Renaissance, room 62, case WN, shelf FS

Italian chairs made from vase-shaped boards of wood have long been known as sgabelli, ultimately derived from the word scabellum (Latin for ‘stool’). They were often carved with fantastic monsters and grotesques, like this example, which belonged to Jules Soulages (1803–1856), a lawyer from Toulouse. His collection was exhibited at Marlborough House between December 1856 and January 1857, and subsequently bought piecemeal by this museum. Many pieces were heavily restored or made up of partly old pieces, like this example.

Physical description

Carved walnut wood chair, partly gilt. The front support of strapwork with a mask in the centre, the back of foliated ornament, flanked by two terminal figures.

Place of Origin

Venice, Italy (made)


1580-1600 (made)


Unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Carved walnut, partly gilt


Height: 121.7 cm, Width: 56 cm, Depth: 55 cm

Object history note

Bought (Soulages collection) £15

Descriptive line

Carved chestnut wood chair, Venice, 16th century.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Pollen, J. H. Ancient and Modern Furniture & Woodwork in the South Kensington Museum (London, 1924), p.103-4
Bode, Wilhelm. Die Italienischen Hausmöbel der Renaissance (Leipzig, 1902), p.22
M. Ajmar-Wolheim and F. Dennis, eds., At Home in Renaissance Italy, exh. cat. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 2006, cat. no. 130, pl. 15.23

Exhibition History

At Home in Renaissance Italy (Victoria and Albert Museum 05/10/2006-07/01/2007)

Labels and date

Pair of Chairs

These typically Venetian chairs, called sgabelli, were fashionable in the 16th century. Made of elaborately carved wood, they have fan-shaped backs and shield-like supports. The imaginative decoration includes grotesque masks, scrolling foliage and female figures known as caryatids. [35 words]

Walnut, partly gilded

V&A: 7179, 7183-1860
At Home in Renaissance Italy, eds.Marta Ajmar-Wollheim and Flora Dennis (London, 2006), cat.130, pl.15.23 [5 Oct 2006 - 7 Jan 2007]
Carved and partly gilt chestnut
ITALIAN (Venetian); 16th century
7179-1860 [Pre-2006]
Carved and gilt walnut.
ITALIAN (VENETIAN); 16th century.
From the Soulages Collection.
7179-1860. [Pre-2006]
CHAIR (Sgabello), one of a set
Carved and partly gilt walnut
ITALIAN (Venice); about 1590
From the Soulages Collection
7179-1860 [Pre-2006]


Walnut; Gold leaf


Carving; Gilding; Joinery


Furniture; Household objects

Production Type

Limited edition

Collection code


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