Piero Fornasetti - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale Hong Kong Sunday, November 25, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Piero Fornasetti offices, Milan
    Themes & Variations, London
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Literature

    Barnaba Fornasetti, ed., Fornasetti: The Complete Universe, New York, 2010, pp. 354, 543 for similar examples

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present lot designed by Piero Fornasetti features imaginary architecture and landscapes, which conjure a fantastical atmosphere inspired by oriental motifs. Enhancing the characteristically simplified form of the skilfully crafted cabinet, Fornasetti applied his design ‘Piccolo Coromandel’, which he transfer-printed then adorned in gold leaf, over a decorative background of burr walnut-veneered wood. Whilst Fornasetti’s distinctive illustrations were largely influenced by his own Italian cultural heritage, the present cabinet reveals the designer’s imaginative interpretation of more distant sources. Fornasetti was greatly inspired by the forms and techniques of the Japanese screen and admired the 1933 treatise on traditional Japanese aesthetics ‘In Praise of Shadows’ written by the Japanese author Jun'ichirō Tanizaki. The ‘Piccolo Coromandel’ design, which Fornasetti created in different colours and applied to varied objects, features Japanese inspired asymmetry and flowing diagonally-structured composition. The design’s title and exotic imagery, comprising fanciful pavilions, figures and natural forms, references eighteenth-century chinoiserie motifs and Chinese Coromandel lacquer screens primarily produced for export to the European market. Fornasetti began experimenting with lithographic printing techniques during the 1930s and was primarily self-taught, learning much of his expansive knowledge of printing from books. He first printed his drawings on paper and fabric before developing a transfer print technique – which today remains a secret – that enabled Fornasetti to transfer his imagery onto painted and wood surfaces. The whimsical decoration of the present cabinet illustrates Fornasetti’s penchant for experimentation and ornamentation, and his desire to introduce art into his everyday surroundings.


Rare 'Piccolo Coromandel' cabinet

transfer-printed burr walnut-veneered wood with gold leaf, brass, coated metal
134.5 x 99.8 x 45 cm (52 7/8 x 39 1/4 x 17 3/4 in.)
Produced 1958. Together with a certificate of authenticity from Barnaba Fornasetti.

HK$180,000 - 280,000 

Contact Specialist
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+852 2318 2023

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Specialist, Head of Day Sale
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20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 26 November 2018