Furniture of the study of King Ferdinand IV of Bourbon

The mysterious story of Weisweiler furniture from the study of the King famous throughout the aristocracy


Category Furniture
Author Adam Weisweiler
Year 1790
Origin -
Material Wood, Gilt bronze
Technique Cabinet making, Casting
Style Neoclassical
Dimensions LxPxA various

History of Weisweiler furniture

The history of this furniture began when Ferdinand IV and many other members of the royalty and nobility of Europe were gathered in Frankfurt for the coronation of Leopold II(1747-1792) as the Holy Roman Emperor. Married to the newly crowned sovereign’s sister Maria Carolina {1752-1814), Ferdinand was the brother in-law of both l.eopold and Marie Antoinette (1755-1793). Hoping to profit from this important event, the parisian marchands-merciers Dominique Daguerre took part at the event with the aim to sell its precious furnishings and to get new orders. A bill of 20 September 1790 indicates that he sold an impressive list of luxury goods to the court of Naples, in particular for his study at Caserta. This included a commode with Chinese lacquer panels and gilded bronzes, and a secretaire of a similar style. Two years later ordered a matching rolltop and another secretaire. The entire Weisweiler furnishings consisted of a trumeau, a dresser, two secretaries, a roller desk, nine chairs and a sofa.


On the right the original cabinet


Although the name of the cabinetmaker is not mentioned in the bills, a stamp on this secretaire identifies it as the work of Adam Weiswciler, the best ebanist of itstime, who worked only for the French and foreign aristocracy.
In 1792 the architect Carlo Vanvitelli (1739-1821) changed the decor of King Ferdinand’s study from the Rococo to the new neoclassical style, and probably the appearance of this room was inspired by these furnishings purchased by the king two years earlier.

The room has kept its late-eighteenth-century decor until today. The furniture, however, was removed in 1806, when the royal couple fled to Sicily after Napoleon occupied Naples. With the Restoration of 1815, the furnishings were returned to Caserta, where they probably stayed until the Kingdom was conquered in 1860, a year before the complete unity of Italy of 1861. It is not known when these superb French pieces were sold and replaced with the copies that are still in the room. In 1920 the two secretaries, the commode and the desk appeared in a catalog of a parisian merchant. The secretaries and the commode were part of a private collection in Argentina, and returned to Paris in 1950, where they were sold again. In 1977 they were donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York where they are still present. The desk is part of a private collection.

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