Indian walnut, ebony, exotic wood, maple with traces of green aniline, inlay of metal, mother-of-pearl, copper, brass, pewter. Small sculpture in silver-plated metal; mirror 238 x 85 x 30 cm, étagère 174 x 70 x 29 cm, single leaf cabinet, 191 x 78 x 37 cm, table 75 x 107 x 59 cm, settee, 96 x 124 x 50 cm, armchair 96 x 50 x 50 cm, chairs 93 x 32 x 34 cm.
As a boy, Eugenio Quarti was sent to Paris as an apprentice to a furniture maker. Upon his return, he worked for a time under Carlo Bugatti, where he met the painter Vittore Grubicy de Dragon who subsequently became his mentor. His urge to begin producing furniture on his own was such that he spent only a few weeks with Bugatti.
Quarti’s first Salotto/Sitting Room model consisted of three cabinets, one table, two armchairs, one settee, and two chairs that represented the excellence of the Italian Liberty style and the exceptional refinement of the artist, who was still under the influence of Bugatti’s Orientalism at the time. Bugatti was the first to place his name in parchment on elements of decor. Quarti applied signature to his creations using metal wire in similar fashion.
The Salotto in the Carraro Collection was shown in Paris at the Universal Exposition in 1900 and at the 1902 Modern International Decorative Arts Exhibition in Torino. After receiving the Grand Prix award in Paris, his furniture was so successful that he proposed it to the Italian market with slight modifications and different upholstery on various occasions, also giving a rounder form to the cabinet’s mirror and substituting the naturalistic sculpture of the youth in the Paris version with an Art Nouveau woman.
Quarti’s furniture in cedar, teak, maple, acacia, and other precious, occasionally stained woods glitter with mother-of-pearl and metal inlay and bronze floral inserts. One shows traces of green; the backrests of some of the chairs are in their original silk.
An illustration of the sitting room set displayed in Paris in its entirety appeared for the first and only time in 1904. The period photo now in the Quarti Archives in Milan gives a partial view of two cabinets and two chairs. Another vintage photo was published in Rossana Bossaglia’s first book on Liberty Style in Italy. Since then, the pieces have appeared alone in various books, have been shown at exhibitions, and placed on sale by antique dealers and auction houses.
Arte italiana decorativa e industriale, February 1904, page 15. Parts of the Salotto were published in Le Figaro Illustré, November, 1900, page 21; Gigi, Corriere in L’Illustrazione italiana, no. 29, July 1900, page 54; Natura e Arte, 1901-02, no. 15 page 215; Arte italiana decorativa e industriale, June 1902, plates 28-29; L’ Arte decorativa moderna, 1903, a. II, n. 6, page 175; Guido Marangoni, Arredo e abbigliamento nella vita di tutti i tempi e di tutti i popoli, Società editrice libraria, Milan 1938, pages 289-290; Milan 70/70. Un secolo d’arte, Editrice Edi, Milan 1970-72, exhibition catalogue (Milan, Poldi Pezzoli Museum, 1970-72), vol. I, page 91; Eleonora Bairati, Rossana Bossaglia, Marco Rosci, L’Italia liberty. Arredamento e arti decorative, Gorlich, Milan 1973, page 151, no. 184. Reproduction of a vintage photo in Rossana Bossaglia, Eugenio e Mario Quarti, Civica raccolta delle Stampe A. Bertarelli, Milan 1980 page 55; Gabriel P. Weisberg, Italy and France: the cosmopolitanism of the New Art in The Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts, no. 13, summer 1989, pages 118-119.