Don Petro Belloni (fl.1740-1760)
circa 1754 - circa 1755
Carved, white painted and gilded wood, scagliola top
87.6 x 176 x 89.5 cm
Place of origin
FlorenceOrder this image
Uppark House and Garden, West Sussex (Accredited Museum)
On show at
A Console table, from a pair, with a Florentine Scagliola top by Petro Belloni dated 1754, the rococo table of white painted and parcel-gilt wood were originally gilded (painted circa 1815) and are attributed to John Bladwell (fl.1725-1768). The rectangular top above a frieze of foliage centred by a pierced apron with a vase flanked by acanthus scrolls, on cabriole legs with scrolling foliage and shells terminated in scroll feet. This pair of tables have been damaged by the fire in 1989 and its pair is a replacement incorporating original fragments, the other scagliola top was also broken into many pieces and restored. John Bladwell, established in Covent Garden, provided carved giltwood furniture to Uppark between 1750-60 as his name occurs several times in Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh's accounts books. Sir Matthew would have had these tables made especially for the scagliola tops that he commissioned during his Grand Tour circa 1750. There are only half a dozen documented table tops by Petro Belloni, all commissioned bySir Matthew and his friends, who were in Rome together circa 1750: the others included Joseph Leeson of Russborough (three scagliola tops restored in 2010 by the National Gallery of Ireland), Robert Clements of Killadoon, and Ralph Howard of Shelton Abbey. The Uppark table tops are signed, one: "D. Pet. Belloni Vallumbros A. Florenta F. A.D.1754" the other: "D.Pet. Belloni A Florenta F 1754". Following a similar composition to the other known examples, they are centred by a strapwork cartouche depicting a landscape, the borders decorated with sprays of flowers, birds, butterflies and a standing animal to each corner, within an outer frieze of strapwork and scrolls intertwined with flowers and foliate branches,on a black ground. Don Pietro Belloni (fl.1740-1770) was a monk at the monastery of Vallombrosa near Florence, an assistant to the Abbot Don Enrico Hugford (1697-1771) who advanced the art of scagliola as a substitute for pietre dure mosaic so landscapes and figures could be depicted in it. Hugford was previously a monk at the Monastery of Santa Reparata at Marradi, where the selenite - main component of scagliola - was quarried. Petro Belloni was reputedly very slow in achieving such detailed works. A letter from Horace Mann to Horace Walpole dated 11 July 1747 refers to pair of scagliola table tops made around that time for Joseph Leeson and records that Belloni is "so slow in working hat he has been almost three years about a pair for a Mr Leson, and requires still six months more". Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh returned from his Grand Tour in 1751 and his accounts books suggest that the table tops were sent to England in 1755 through the agency of Joseph Smith (English consul in Venice). Indeed, Sir Matthew wrote to Horace Mann at Florence on the 12 October 1753 : "I hope you will excuse the trouble of this, wch is to intreat the favr of you to inquire of the Monk whether he has not done the two tables I bespoke of him, & wch I believe I mention'd to you when I left Florence; they were inlaid Tables, of which kind Mr Leeson had one done." (N.A, S.P 105/310).
Commissioned by Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh (1714-1774) when in Florence during his Grand Tour circa 1750, delivered in 1755; by descent; given to the National Trust in 1954 with the house and some of its contents by Admiral the Hon. Sir Herbert Meade-Fetherstonhaugh.
Marks and inscriptions
D. Pet. Belloni Vallumbros A. Florenta F. A.D.1754 (signed on top)
Makers and roles
Don Petro Belloni (fl.1740-1760), scagliola artist attributed to John Bladwell (fl.1725-1768), carver and gilder
Jackson-Stops, 1985: Gervase Jackson-Stops, ed., The Treasure Houses of Britain: five hundred years of private patronage and art collecting, exh. cat. The National Gallery of Art, Washington, New Haven and London 1985 Uppark, West Sussex, 1995 [The National Trust] 1995