Empire Furniture in Italy (Enrico Colle)


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Napoleon’s arrival in Italy in the late 18th century had far-reaching effects– trends evolved not only in the social and political realms, but also in the country’s style and taste. From tapestries to furniture, a new look emerged in interiors, a style connected with Italy’s past and Napoleon’s ideals.

Enrico Colle, one of Italy’s leading experts on Italian furniture and period interiors provides the first systematic catalog of this rich time and place in decorating history. Italian Empire Furniture is the definitive analysis of its subject. A thorough overview of the style, followed by detailed entries on major pieces of furniture, and full-page color illustrations make this long-awaited reference book a priceless addition to the libraries of scholars and collectors alike.

This volume, the first of a series devoted to styles of furniture, illustrates the singular and highly original direction that the Empire style took in Italy during the period of French rule and of the Restoration, up to around 1840, when it was gradually overshadowed by a revival of historical styles.

The introduction provides a thorough overview of the evolution of the Empire style in Italy and is accompanied by a treasure trove of archival material including prints and drawings from design manuals of the period. The role of the major art institutions of the time, as well as the influence of key individuals, from architects and interior decorators, to cabinetmakers and their patrons, adds to this landmark study of the complex artistic and cultural influences behind the formation and evolution of the Empire style.

Each chapter in this definitive study is devoted to the interiors of the royal palaces of key duchies and kingdoms. In particular, emphasis is given to the taste of the court, and to examining the interest shown by the various sovereigns of the Italian states in encouraging the development of the Empire style within the framework of prevailing individual tastes. Included in this volume are detailed inventories and catalogue entries complete with a thoroughly researched provenance for each item of furniture.

With over 200 color photographs, approximately 235 drawings, and an informed critical text, Empire Style in Italy is a significant work that casts new light on the subject and serves as an invaluable resource for scholars and furniture collectors alike.