Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.



  • Place of origin:

    Milan (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1902 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bugatti, Carlo, born 1856 - died 1940 (designer and maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Walnut, turned and partly ebonised, with painted vellum and stamped brass, silk cords

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Furniture, Room 133, The Dr Susan Weber Gallery, case BY11, shelf EXP

This chair was made in the workshop of the Italian designer Carlo Bugatti (1856-1940). Bugatti’s furniture attempted to break away from historical conventions, reflecting the Art Nouveau appreciation in nature and the aesthetics of Japan, the architecture of North Africa and the motifs of Islamic art. His use of materials such as painted vellum and stamped brass was also adventurous.

Bugatti’s designs became very sculptural, using bold geometric forms and large areas of sparsely painted vellum. This chair is similar to one exhibited by Bugatti at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative Art in Turin in 1902. It is typical of Bugatti's furniture both in the design and in the materials used. The geometric frame and shield-like motifs on the legs show his awareness of oriental and Islamic motifs, while the painted vellum for the seat and back is an unconventional upholstery material.

Physical description

Walnut, turned and partly ebonized with painted vellum and stamped brass. The four feet of rectangular secton rise at an angle of 45 degrees; they have stamped brass cladding at the front, tapering down at the sides to the back. Above this, they are covered in vellum for a short way before each pair meets a circular section, with segments missing from top and bottom, covered inside, ouside, and on the front and back edges with stamped brass and in the centre of each side with a turned circle of wood containing a further turned circle of stamped brass which is aptly covered with a central turned projection with a central ebonized finial. The front and back seat rails extended downwards to form tapering boxes, rise from the circular stamped brass section, they are covered in vellum and contain the square sect on ebonized bases of the arm and back-supports which rise from the segment missing from the upper part of the circular brass stamped section. The legs are thus arranged as two approximate 'X' shapes with circles in the centre of each. The front and back edges of the seat are chamfered; the seat is then framed by stamped brass.
The centre of the seat is of stretched vellum painted with a bamboo motif. The back of the arm supports rise above the level of the seat and are turned as columns whose plain bases and capitals are of unebonized walnut and whose shafts are covered with spirals of stamped brass. Above these columns are square section lengths connected by a double column of similar character separated by a wider length of unebonized walnut, forming arms. The front arm supports terminate shortly above this level. The back supports rise in short, turned columnar sections surmounted by three square blocks separated in rounded mouldings; these mouldings form grips for silk tasselled cords which pass through a pair of holes on each side of the back rest; suspending it. This back rest is rectangular with a framing on back and front of stamped brass; the remainder is covered with vellum, stretched over the back and front. The front panel is painted with flowers and signed 'Bugatti'. Above this level, the finials are restorations formed two columns of stamped brass separated by moulded bases and surmounted by finials formed as five sharply angled mouldings; these restored sections are based on the side chairs en-suite with the museum's chair.

Place of Origin

Milan (made)


ca.1902 (made)


Bugatti, Carlo, born 1856 - died 1940 (designer and maker)

Materials and Techniques

Walnut, turned and partly ebonised, with painted vellum and stamped brass, silk cords

Marks and inscriptions

1) Makers's mark 2) Signature; front panel


Height: 113 cm, Width: 68 cm, Depth: 68.7 cm approx

Descriptive line

Armchair designed and made by Carlo Bugatti; turned walnut with painted vellum and repoussé copper decoration, some plated with copper alloy; Milan; 1895-1900.

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

Greenhalgh, Paul Ed., Art Nouveau : 1890 - 1914. London: V&A Publications, 2000. 449p., 7.4pl.

Labels and date



'American and European Art and Design 1800-1900'

This signed chair is typical of the work of Bugatti, who showed furniture at the 1888 London Italian Exhibition but only achieved fame through the Turin 1902 Exhibition. His style, characterised by an indeterminate exoticism, was compared in 1888 to Rider Haggard. [1987-2006]
About 1902
Designed by Carlo Bugatti (1856–1940) and made in his workshop
Italy (Milan)

Walnut, turned and partly ebonised
Mounts: stamped copper, some plated with copper alloy
Upholstery (original): painted vellum with silk cords

Museum no. W.10-1968

Bugatti (father of the car designer Ettore Bugatti) was a maker of furniture and metalwork. Like other Art Nouveau designers, he rejected western traditions and turned further afield for inspiration. In this challenging, idiosyncratic composition he combines elements from the ancient world, Japan and North Africa. [01/12/2012]


Walnut; Brass; Vellum; Silk


Stamping; Painting; Turning

Subjects depicted



Images Online; Furniture


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.