Gio Ponti - Important Design London Wednesday, March 20, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Contini Bonacossi residence, Quadreria Moderna, Villa Vittoria, Florence, 1930-1931

  • Literature

    'Alcuni mobili di Tomaso Buzzi e di Gio Ponti nella dimora dei Conti C. in Firenze', Domus, no. 71, November 1933, pp. 580-81
    Irene de Guttry and Maria Paola Maino, Il mobile déco italiano 1920-1940, Bari, 1988, p. 215
    Ugo La Pietra, ed., Gio Ponti: L’arte si innamora dell’industria, New York, 2009, p. 51
    Giunti Editore, La collezione Contini Bonacossi, nelle Gallerie degli Uffizi, Florence, 2018, p. 44

  • Catalogue Essay

    Gio Ponti designed the present three stools as part of the furnishings for the Quadreria moderna (modern picture gallery) at Villa Vittoria, the nineteenth-century villa of Count Alessandro Contini Bonacossi and his wife Vittoria. After spending time in America, where they established important relationships with art collectors and museums, Alessandro and Vittoria returned to Italy and purchased a Neo-Renaissance style building built by Marquess Massimiliano Strozzi in Florence. Ponti with Tomaso Buzzi and Giulio Rosso were responsible for extensively refurbishing the villa, which Alessandro lovingly renamed after his wife, with a brief that prioritised the accommodation of the magnificent art collection the couple had created together, notably through Vittoria’s natural intuition and sophisticated eye.

    Completed in 1927, Villa Vittoria was frequented by art critics, museum directors, artists, and aristocrats. The ground floor of the residence, which retained its original Neo-Renaissance features, housed Alessandro and Vittoria’s collection of antiques and Old Master paintings, including works by Giovanni Bellini, Titian, Paolo Veronese, Paolo Uccello, Tintoretto, El Greco, Diego Velazquez. Their collection of modern art, which was Vittoria’s foremost passion and featured works by artists including Giorgio de Chirico, Giorgio Morandi, Marino Marini, and Carlo Carrà, was displayed in a long hallway on the first floor.

    The form of the present stools references the ancient Roman curule seat – a symbol of power also repeated in the bronze crown motif featured on each stool as well as several other furniture designs by the architect for Villa Vittoria. The stools’ suspended leather seats reference the form’s original use in antiquity to be folded and transported. The gallery also included a pair of low tables with table tops in Verde delle Alpi and Rosso Toscano marble, respectively, and four walnut benches – all elevated on sculptural brass legs. Through his elegant, neoclassical designs, inspired by antiquity and expertly executed by master cabinetmaker Angelo Magnon, Ponti created a setting that honoured the exceptional collection of art acquired by the Bonacossi's.

    Villa Vittoria is now Florence’s Congress Palace. As outlined in Alessandro Contini Bonacossi’s will, part of their collection was donated to the State and is displayed at the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

  • Artist Biography

    Gio Ponti

    Italian • 1891 - 1979

    Among the most prolific talents to grace twentieth-century design, Gio Ponti defied categorization. Though trained as an architect, he made major contributions to the decorative arts, designing in such disparate materials as ceramics, glass, wood and metal. A gale force of interdisciplinary creativity, Ponti embraced new materials like plastic and aluminum but employed traditional materials such as marble and wood in original, unconventional ways.

    In the industrial realm, he designed buildings, cars, machinery and appliances — notably, the La Cornuta espresso machine for La Pavoni — and founded the ADI (Industrial Designer Association). Among the most special works by Gio Ponti are those that he made in collaboration with master craftsmen such as the cabinetmaker Giordano Chiesa, the illustrator Piero Fornasetti and the enamellist Paolo de Poli.

    View More Works


Set of three stools, designed for the Contini Bonacossi residence, Quadreria Moderna, Villa Vittoria, Florence

Walnut-veneered wood, leather, bronze.
Each: 41.6 x 74.5 x 54.3 cm (16 3/8 x 29 3/8 x 21 3/8 in.)
Executed by master cabinetmaker Angelo Magnoni for Quarti, Milan, Italy. From the production of five. Underside of each with metal label with facsimile signature Gio Ponti. Together with a certificate of expertise from the Gio Ponti Archives.

£50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for £81,250

Contact Specialist
Madalena Horta E Costa
Head of Sale
+44 20 7318 4019

Important Design

London Auction 21 March 2019