Furnishing a Museum: Isabella Stewart Gardner's Collection of Italian Furniture

Best known for its collection of masterpiece paintings, the Gardner Museum is also one of the first museums to include a large quantity of Italian furniture. Ranging from Renaissance wedding chests and inlaid credenza to Rococo Venetian pieces of the 18th century, the collection is perhaps the largest of its type in the United States. Although relying upon several advisers for her acquisitions of paintings and sculptures (most famously, Bernard Berenson), Isabella Gardner bought her furniture entirely on her own, recognizing the critical role furniture played in the function and decoration of Italian interiors from the 15th century to the early 19th century. This meticulously designed catalog includes numerous photographs that focus on individual objects and reveal characteristic forms and styles. Observations made by the museum conversation department about the techniques and materials of the pieces, which differ significantly from furniture of other countries, are also published. Long overlooked, very little has appeared in English on the subject of Italian furniture. Yet, these magnificent objects are finally given the careful study and attention they deserve in this beautifully produced catalog.

By Fausto Calderai and Alan Chong
328 pages
Published by Periscope, 2011
9.5 x 1.2 x 12 inches