A rare Neapolitan late 19th century, bronzed and polychrome decorated cabinet,by A. Caponetti, for the Achilleion Palace, Corfu, dated 1891
Lot 252
A rare Neapolitan late 19th century, bronzed and polychrome decorated cabinet,
by A. Caponetti, for the Achilleion Palace, Corfu, dated 1891
Sold for £8,125 (US$ 11,024) inc. premium

Lot Details
A rare Neapolitan late 19th century, bronzed and polychrome decorated cabinet,by A. Caponetti, for the Achilleion Palace, Corfu, dated 1891
A rare Neapolitan late 19th century, bronzed and polychrome decorated cabinet,
by A. Caponetti, for the Achilleion Palace, Corfu, dated 1891
the rectangular moulded top incised with a Greek key and paterae border, above a pair of doors painted with classical maidens, one holding floral wreaths, the other a spear and shield with rope twist borders with painted and applied roundels, the interior fitted with a shelf, the sides flanked by two classical Greek caryatids, with ribbon-tied en grisaille portrait medaillons to the sides, on a stepped plinth base painted with outspread herons and anthemion, labelled inside the door A. Caponetti, 1891, Napoli, 147cm wide, 53cm deep, 108cm high (57.5in wide, 20.5in deep, 42.5in high).


    This cabinet once formed part of the original furnishings for the neo-classical palace Achilleion, on Corfu, commissioned in 1888 by Her Majesty the Empress Elizabeth (Sisi) of Austria (1837-1898), and was situated in the Kaisers apartments within the palace, cf. Photo-archives. Achilleion auf Korfu: Schlafzimmer seiner Majestaet. Planmappe Korfu, Haus-Hof und Staatsarchiv, Vienna.
    Since her first trip to Corfu in 1861,the Empress Elizabeth cultivated both an intellectual and spiritual fascination with the ancient and modern history of Greece, taking lessons from such erudite teachers such as the diarist Constantine Christomanos, (who in his contemporary book on the Achilleion, mentions some of the furniture being made to the designs by A. Caponetti of Naples). One of her most important mentors was the Austrian Consul of Corfu, Alexander von Warsberg, one of the greatest contemporary authorities on Greek history, and it was von Warsberg with whom the Empress enlisted the initial responsibility for the first plans for the Achilleion Palace in 1888.
    On the untimely death of von Warsberg one year later in 1889, the responsibility for the work at Achilleion was passed to August Freiherr von Bucovich, who, in turn, coordinated the work between the architect Rafaele Carito, and the Neapolitan artisans furnishing the Palace. Carito enlisted the skills of Italian artists such as Salvatore Postiglione and Gallopi for the interiors, and various designs for the fittings and furniture from professor A.Caponetti of Albergo dei Poveri in Naples.
    After the completion of the palace in 1891 the Empresses interest in Achilleion rapidly declined, and in 1896, visited Corfu for the last time. One year later the Empress was already seeking, in vain, a buyer for the palace.
    After the tragic assassination of the Empress in 1898 ownership of the Achilleion palace was inherited by her husband Kaiser Franz Joseph, but giving exclusive usage rights to her daughter Princess Gisela (1856-1923), who immediately sought to sell the palace to the Imperial family fund.
    From 1905, through the mediation of his Royal Highness King George of Greece, Achilleion was eventually sold in 1907, at huge financial loss, to Kaiser Wilhelm II, who commenced the renovation and refurnishing of the palace. Most of the original furniture at this time was removed and eagerly replaced with white and gold neo-empire pieces, (as opposed to the darker Pompeian styles preferred by the Empress), by the Berlin firm of Prechtel, who had made his services available at no cost, in exchange for favours from the Imperial court, and the expectation that the Kaiser might consider elevating his status to that of nobility. It is conceivable, that during this intermediate period, this cabinet was removed from Achilleion.
    At the end of the first World War, after its sequestration, Achilleion was used as a military hospital by the French army, and suffered further neglect and plundering during the Greek dictatorship of Gerneral Pangalos (1925/26), at which time much of the inventory was destroyed.
    During World War II the palace once again suffered periods of German and Italian occupation.
    From 1962 the Palace Achilleion was leased to the German Businessman, H. von Richthofen, who created a casino within the palace, and endeavoured to restore the interior to its former glory and retrieve as much of the lost furnishings as possible.
    Since the expiry of von Richthofens lease, the casino has been moved to another location, and today the Achilleion enjoys the deserved status as a museum.
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  1. Fine Furniture (UK)
    Auction administration - European Furniture and Works of Art
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