The fantasy of Venetian decorators

Starting from the second half of the 16th century, the first objects in lacquer have been imported to Europe, mainly by Portuguese and Dutch, and they had since from the beginning, a strong request on the market. In the following century, the objects in lacquer of “Coromandel”, called so because they came to Europe from the coast of the Coromandel (Southeast coast of India), had such a success that after a first period of importations, in Europe they started imitating them. the first works did not have the same refinement and perfection of those varnished in the East, but then the technique of the “shellac” and “vernis martin” was perfected during the whole century to achieve the wonderful works which in the 18th century flourished in all Europe and, especially, in Italy. The so-called Venetian “depentori” (decorators) were among the first and most celebre in Italy to imitate Chinese and Japanese lacquers. The new 18th century’s environments had as a must, when furnishing, lightness and refinement and every graceful in the shapes and decorations object. However, the ability and the fantasy of Venetian artisans exceeded in terms of the invention of the Chinese models. Commodes, toilettes, sofas and chairs, desks, mirrors, boxes were thus enriched by a fantastic world made of little dames with parasols, opium smokers, servants among pagodas and pavilions in minimal landscapes, small flowers, buds, corollas and rocailles decorations housed by ostriches, camels, parrots and butterflies. They were decorations that mirrored the lifestyle of the noble class of the moment, a joyful conception of the social life developed between foyers and casinos among the pleasures of life and conversations.

Lacquer was a fashion that characterised Venetian furniture of the 18th century and from the sinuous lines it moved to the more slender and sober elements of Louis XVI’s taste, before turning off with the arrival of the Impero style and the comeback of wood in wood colour. 

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