Antique Italian Painted Furniture

Anyone who has had the

good fortune of traveling through Italy will attest that although the country is known for touting a simple and easy-going lifestyle, traditional Italian design and decor is anything but simplistic.

Contemporary Italian furniture boasts mostly modern characteristics – clean lines, little embellishment, bold colours and glossy finishes, but this wasn’t always the case.  In Classical times, Italian furniture was very ornate (almost overly ornate) and in order to disguise the lack-lustre wood used for most pieces (soft pine, beech and poplar), artists began painting elaborate scenes on furniture in gold leaf and vibrant colours.

Architectural Digest published an article on painted Italian furniture and I found myself staring slack-jawed at the slideshow before my eyes.

Ok, fine, I admit:

I am not a major fan of traditional Italian furniture… but there is something very appealing (almost romantic!) about PAINTED antique Italian furniture. The boisterous and curvaceous forms of the Baroque and Renaissance eras make me smile, and the shimmering gold finishes seem to be the standard for opulence.

Love this Geonese Bureau Cabinet circa 1730. Isn't it pretty?

Gorgeous 19th century Northern Italian Side Chairs:

Venetian Bureau Cabinet circa 1712:

This mid-18th Century Venetian Commode sold for $779,830 at an antique auction:

Gorgeous mid-18th Century Sicilian Bureau:

Mid-18th century Sicilian Credenza:

So..whaddaya think? I find all of these pieces to be so beautiful, and I think they would make for really interesting accent pieces in any space, but more than one or two in a single space might be a little overwhelming (too much of a good thing can sometimes be poisonous, right?).

Then again, for the price of these antiques, I think maybe one accent piece is already one-too-many ;)

All images courtesy of Architectural Digest.

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