by or after Giuseppe Gaetano Descalzi (1767-1855)
A chiavari, or rout, chair, one of a set of twelve, of varnished cherry, after, or possibly by, Giuseppe Gaetano Descalzi (1767-1855) of Chiavari, Genoa. Possibly made by him in Genoa, and early to mid-19th century, but one of the set (NT 1147226.11) is stamped ‘J.T’, possibly for the chair-maker or caner. This, and the fact that they were much-copied in the 19th century (and still are), means that it is possible that they were made somewhere else by a different craftsman. Of very lightweight construction, and with a bar toprail with curving ends on broadening rear supports joined by a horizontal splat with central swelling and flared ends. The back inlaid throughout with a darker line. The woven cane seat – original to some of the chairs – raised on slender ring- and baluster-turned front legs united by a conforming stretcher. The rear supports plain and tapering, and with a plain single rear, and pairs of side, stretchers. This chair much-damaged and in several pieces.
This lightweight and easily portable chair was first made by Giuseppe Gaetano Descalzi (1767-1855) of Chiavari, Genoa, and is sometimes called the ‘campanino’ model. A 1986 exhibition dedicated to the chiavari included two very similar chairs. One (Cat. No. 4, pp. 31-3), the identical model, is attributed to Guiseppe Geatano Descalzi and dated circa 1820. It is made of varnished cherry. Another slightly less refined chair, also of cherry but with an ebonised finish, and with minor differences in design, is firmly given to Descalzi and dated to 1841 (Cat, No. 7, pp. 33-4). This design, and others produced by Descalzi (particularly the model with slender turned spindles to the back), were extremely popular, and graced some of the finest residences in Europe. Indeed, this type of chair is depicted in several watercolours by Jean-Baptiste-Fortuné de Fournier (1798-1864) of rooms in the château of Saint-Cloud, one of the palaces used by Napoleon III (1808-1873) and his wife, the Empress Eugenié (1826-1920). Known in Italy as chiavari, and in France as charivari, in England they are called ‘rout’ chairs, a reflection of their use as chairs brought out specifically for use at entertainments and balls, otherwise called routs. They are still used in the same way, particularly at weddings. (Megan Wheeler, January 2019)
Makers and roles
by or after Giuseppe Gaetano Descalzi (1767-1855), cabinet-maker
Pessa, Lorendana e Montagni, Claudio (eds), L’arte della sedia a Chiavari, Exhibition Catalogue, Chiavari, Palazzo Rocca, 14 December 1985 – 14 January 1986, Cat Nos. 4, 7 & 19