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Sabrina Egidi

I was born in Rome.

For several generations my husband’s family have been antique dealers and from them I have inherited a taste for beauty, knowledge about antique objects and care for a demanding clientele that is always on the lookout for rare objects.

For many years I ran two galleries in the heart of Rome, a few steps away from Piazza Navona, one in Piazza dell’Orologio and one in via dei Coronari.

In 2002 I decided to improve my qualifications and subsequently became an official Expert in Italian furniture for the Chamber of Commerce of Rome and for the Rome Civil Courts.

In 2005 I moved to Paris where I opened a boutique in the prestigious and worldwide recognized Marché Serpette, the temple of interior decoration and cradle of all the latest trends.

Thanks to this experience I came into contact with all the leading international designers and interior decorators and my boutique attracted the most prominent names from the world of Haute Couture, design and from the entertainment world. Now I have decided to be present on the web so as to be constantly in contact with my clients and reach out to those who do not know me yet.

Have fun surfing the web!

Sabrina.

Amarcord

It is our pleasure to tell you about us, our background and our professional experience in this column. We have included some personal “vintage” photos of furniture items that we bought and sold in the past and of the antiques exhibitions in which we participated.

Our story began back in the 1980s when we started to attend the antiques, 20th century products and objets d’art and design fairs that have contributed to making the history of this trade. However, my husband, Alessandro, who comes from a family that has traded in antiques for generations, is going to tell you more. I’ll be back later .

Greetings everyone, Sabrina has asked me to tell you in a nutshell about our journey in the interior decoration sector and I am happy to oblige.

At the end of the 1950s my father opened a cabinetmaking workshop in Rome near Via Salaria, in the Trieste-Parioli neighbourhood, where he began a brilliant career as a cabinetmaker. In spite of the fact that by the end of the ’70s he had opened an antiques gallery in the the Piazza Bologna neighbourhood, he never really abandoned his profession for which he had a real passion.

Also my uncle was a distinguished antiquarian since the 1960s, with a gallery of high-end antique furniture in Viale Regina Margherita, a few steps away from Piazza Buenos Aires (a piazza that is now known as Piazza Quadrata or Piazza della Regina).

I was therefore born into the profession, and this is a major asset for an interior designer. The experience you build up by merely belonging to a family which has been immersed in the art world for generations is a real added value in the craft of a decorator.

I grew up surrounded by furniture, paintings, antique objects of all styles and eras and ever since I was a young boy I attended exhibitions and antiques fairs. Here is a short story of each of these fairs and I’ll start with the one I hold closest to my heart.

Arezzo

Arezzo holds a monthly fair, it still takes place on the first Saturday and Sunday of each month in the historic centre and in the adjacent streets.

This is a traditional market with a longstanding history in the trading of very high quality goods.

In the early days the hustle and bustle would begin on the Wednesdays and Thursdays with the arrival of “the Genoese.” Several antiquarians from Genoa and Liguria would settle in the beautiful Cofani-Brizzolari palace, overlooking Piazza Grande, putting on display all sorts of incredible merchandise, from the gilded sofas to the sacred paintings of the distant past.

Speaking of sacred furniture, I once bought a beautiful series of 12 Louis XIV candlesticks in gilded wood from a Genoese antiques dealer whose son and friend of mine brilliantly manages an auction house in Milan.

Buyers would start their search in that evocative building and would then continue in the many shops in the surrounding streets.

The meeting point for all the other exhibitors coming from outside Arezzo was “at the stadium”; eager buyers would gather there for the preview of the furniture and paintings and many a deal was struck. Then, on the Friday afternoon, as in a sort of procession, the trucks finally entered the city where they would unload their merchandise.

The real market would begin on the Saturday, with the Neapolitans positioned mainly in Piazza Grande, the traders from Bari on the steep road leading up to the “Pratone”, while the antiques dealers from Rome would be scattered here and there. I have a warm memory of a much respected antiques dealer from L’Aquila, now passed away, whose spot was next to the fountain in Piazza Grande: he had a very simple style… not an object dating later than Louis XIV … I remember, as if it were yesterday, sitting in the car with my family one day in the early ’70s, my father spotted his truck full of all sorts of goods on the highway. My father beckoned him to pull up at the next service station. This meeting on the Rome – L’Aquila motorway marked the beginning of a long-lasting partnership.

Our first exhibition space in Arezzo (after many years of paying our dues in the side streets) was next to the “Genoese” on the first floor of Palazzo Brizzolari.

Later we obtained a spot in piazza San Francesco, inside the former art gallery of the famous Arezzo antiquarian Ivan Bruschi. It was here, in the early 90s, that our experience came to an end in the magnificent city which birthed Giorgio Vasari; the first art historian and a distinguished painter in his own right.

But now it’s time to move to …

Parma

“Mercanteinfiera” is possibly, to this very day, the most important fair of antiques, 20th century products and objects d’art and design objects on a global scale.

It’s with joy that I look back to the first time I participated: a single pavilion, the legendary number three, an installation without walls, but many many customers. Our goods were almost entirely gone on the first day! Another unforgettable memory from that day; a room-full of Gio Ponti in parchment sold in real time at eight-o’clock in the morning (unfortunately not by me, but my neighbour ….)

M69- PAD 2, V23 -PAD 3. No this is not a secret code, but the numbers of our stands at the Parma Fairs, our last participation dates back to 1998. Parma was a wonderful experience. I think that it was in Parma that for the first time the various antiques dealers of Italy interacted with each other forming real relationships. Besides exchanging goods, they also compared styles and had the opportunity to appreciate the different cultures.

Objects in coral from Trapani alongside Maggiolini chests, cabinets in the Roman Baroque style standing next to Rococo Venetian Moors. An unprecedented display of variegated objects.

Not to mention the brilliant visionaries who started trading in Italian design objects from the 50s, 60s and 70s. I remember now the curiosity, mixed with a hint of pity, that I felt as I watched my neighbour unload goods which I – feeling so proud of my gilded puttos – considered to be utterly insignificant.

Only many years later did I learn that they were a Triennale of Arredoluce, a Fontana Arte lamp, armchairs by Franco Albini, Osvaldo Borsani, Zanuso, etc.

Time has proven her resoundingly right!

Something totally new also started at the Mercanteinfiera: the massive and large-scale contact of the Italian antiques market with the international market: American decorators, French designers, Middle Eastern antiques dealers – what a joy when they bought items from me!

For the first time here in Parma you would see the huge containers of international shippers such as Edet, Hedley’s or Camard. What a thrill to go and look at them in the hope that your goods might end up in one of them.

Now it’s time to go back to my hometown with the participation of…

 

 

 

D’EPOCA ROMA

It was 1989, I picked up the magazine “Il Giornale dell ‘Arte” and my eyes fell on the back page that featured a full-page advertisement for an exhibition that was to leave its mark. The exhibition was called “D’Epoca Roma”
The incredible thing is that both in the logo (Canova’s Paolina Bonaparte with Palazzo Borghese in the background), and in the text there was a clear reference to the Borghese Museum. Was that possible ?! An antiques exhibition in such a unique place ?!
In fact, the place was ‘Borghese’ but not at the Museum. Much more prosaically it was the underground car park of Villa Borghese ….
Never mind, I thought, because I did like the idea.
I will never forget the moment when Guido Marchi, organizer of the exhibition, unfolded the huge map where I was going to choose my spot, my stand.
It was not easy because I was the first !!!
It was there, in that office in Largo dei Fiorentini, that my involvement with “D’epoca Roma” began. It lasted four years.
But the story I am going to tell you here started there and has been going of for 28. The second most exciting thing about that fair was the sale of a marble Madonna and Child, that I had just bought the day before, to an antiques dealer from Bologna. In the pure Florentine style of the fifteenth century with its perfect patina the Madonna directly evoked great artists such as Desiderio da Settignano or Donatello, but the signature was unmistakeable Alceo Dossena (Cremona 1878 – Rome 1937); “Italian forger” (Cremona 1878-Rome 1937), is how he is presented to readers in the Treccani Encyclopaedia, and it goes on to say that “…he even set up a trust involving several Italian antiques dealers who encouraged the artist to practice his craft, even suggesting subject matter and models … . For the erudite, historic and epigraphic aspects, the consultant was Father G. Sola …”.
Some remarks are in order here: the first which is striking, in particular, for the Romans is the name of the ‘consultant of the erudite historic and epigraphic aspects’: Father G. Sola (‘sola’ is the Roman word for swindler, fraudster), one might rightly say “Nomen Omen”. The second, is the unfailingly good impression made by the category of antiques dealers. The third and main one is the issue that concerns the people who all too simplistically are referred to as “forgers”.
The description goes on to say that: “…his forgeries are included in several prominent collections (Metropolitan Museum of New York, the Cleveland and Boston Museums, and many others).
Having one’s works on display in the most prestigious museums in the world is quite remarkable.
Perhaps the time has come to forge a new name for this category of artists. I would suggest to call them “differently artists”.
After this digression, let us return to our dear exhibition “D’Epoca Roma”;
I have told you so far about the second most exciting thing about this fair, but what was the first?
Can you guess who was the girl in the booth next to mine?
Well, yes, it was her, Sabrina Egidi .
Well, thank you for your attention, and now Sabrina is going to tell I you about the mythical…

PALAPARIOLI

Thank you Alessandro for your interesting contribution.

In 1996 we founded the well known Galleria dell’Orologio, named after the suggestive baroque square called Piazza dell’Orologio in the heart of downtown Rome between Via Giulia and Piazza Navona.

It was in those years that we started our presence at the beautiful Palaparioli fair, whose strength was its location. As the name says, this exhibition used to take place in the prestigious Parioli neighbourhood in Rome. The buyers were unquestionably very high-level as was the quality of the exhibitors and the quality of their goods of course.

In this regard I would like to say something about the beautiful chest that you see here in the picture and that we presented in the edition of 2001.

This marvellous piece of furniture is a typical work of Tuscan workmanship, especially Florentine or Sienese, from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

This was a period that marked the revival of Renaissance forms with a great demand for furniture in the Italian style of the fifteenth century. Especially in the United States, real Florentine-style castles were recreated ex-novo, which at the time represented the height of glamour.

Very famous is the so-called Hearst Castle. As the name implies, it was built at the behest of press tycoon William Randolph Hearst, who inspired Orson Wells’s “Citizen Kane”. Built in a somewhat more advanced period, at the end of the ’40s, it is the triumph of the most unrestrained eclecticism, a perfect example of what we Europeans call with malevolent snobbery: “kitsch.”

Throughout the fifteenth century and until the beginning of the sixteenth century many famous artists decorated wedding chests, from Ghirlandaio and Jacopo del Sellaio to Benozzo Gozzoli and Botticelli. The originator of decorated wedding chests was claimed to be Giovanni di ser Giovanni, known as Lo Scheggia, brother of the better-known Masaccio. But the real author of this piece of furniture is probably the so-called “Maestro del panforte” (fruitcake) who was a craftsman-forger-artist to whom Federico Zeri, in one of his famous quarrels, had attributed four box boards with wedding scenes initially considered to be works by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. This artist, whose identity is still unknown, owes his nickname to a curious fact. Siena, famous throughout the world for its art and its Palio, is also renowned for its typical dessert called panforte (fruitcake). Now it happens that in the early 1900s the pastry of the Parenti family had become the most sought after because of the wrapping paper which represented scenes of medieval life. The works that can be traced back to our forger “Maestro del panforte” seem to have been inspired by these scenes and this is the reason for his nickname.

Our last participation in the Pala Parioli dates back to 2004, and it was a truly wonderful experience. In 2000 we moved from piazza dell’Orologio to via dei Coronari, the street par excellence of antiques in Rome, where we opened our own boutique. It was in those years that for the first time we participated in what has been one of the most prestigious exhibitions ever to take place in my city…

 

 

GRANDI ANTIQUARI A ROMA

Among the antiques fairs in which we participated, the Grandi Antiquari a Roma (Great Antiques dealers in Rome) is certainly one of the most prestigious.

The name given to the event clearly reflects the objectives of the organizers which was to hold in Rome an exhibition of the highest level that could compete against the Biennale of Palazzo Venezia. Even the location was chosen with this goal. For the first time in the capital, a high-level antiques fair took place in the historic EUR district and in particular in the beautiful Palazzo dei Congressi.

Designed and built under the Mussolini administration in 1942, the EUR district is likely to remain the last true artistic imprint that Rome has known.

“…It is easy to be intimidated by the austere buildings of this neighbourhood, its wide avenues …..” I read this in a guide-book on Rome, and it is true, but I would add that one perceives almost a sense of estrangement, a sort of Stendhal syndrome, but with a modernist twist.

In any case, there is nothing more distant from the baroque contortions that characterize our city.

It is here, therefore, that in 2000, the first edition of “Grandi Antiquari a Roma” was held.

To be in line with the title of the exhibition, we presented a beautiful unpublished oil on canvas by Michele Antonio Rapous. As we read in a catalogue of the auction house Wannenes, this artist “was an author of still-lifes among the most outstanding of the Piedmontese eighteenth century, influenced by contemporary French painting and author of refined floral compositions”. Our painting was in fact a “refined floral composition” and had the advantage of being ‘in prima tela.’ It still possessed its coeval frame.

In another edition we presented a beautiful pair of ovals still-lifes with coeval frames attributed to the painter Giovanni Stanchi. This artist, who worked in Rome in the second half of the seventeenth century, was called precisely the artist “of the flowers” because of his remarkable ability to represent still-lifes.

Writing these lines, our memories were filled with many other beautiful furniture, paintings and objects that in that period we had selected and then display them in this hall: a stunning pair of Roman ‘dormeuse‘ in gilded wood Louis XV (photo), a console table in gilded wood signed Bernardini (photo), a pair of Tuscan consoles that did not even in time to enter our stand, which two well-known Umbrian antique dealers immediately bought to present it in turn at the ‘Biennale di Firenze’.

Our experience at “Grandi Antiquari a Roma” was a wonderful experience.

In 2002, with great satisfaction, I was admitted to the Register of the Experts of the Chamber of Commerce of Rome and then to the official Register of the Experts in Italian Antique Furniture for the Civil Court of Rome. What a satisfaction!

But now is the time to cross the Alps and finally talk to you about our arrival in Paris.

 

 

 

Paris

And so we come to 2005 when I saw the advertisement for an antiques show that would take place in Paris, to be precise in Saint Ouen at the gates of the French capital. I was particularly struck by its name: “Mondial de l’antiquité”.

Saint Ouen is an urban area close to Paris, which has become the one and most important centre of antiques and world decoration since the ’70s and ‘80s.

Born as a flea market in the years between the end of the 1800s and the beginning of the 1900s, it was later “Classé depuis 2001, Zone de Protection du Patrimoine Architectural Urbain et Paysager“, as the official website states, and its success was such that it became the fourth most visited site in France. Every weekend from all over the world, thousands of people arrive at Rue des Rosiers, and among them, in addition to decorators, antiques dealers and interior decorators, there are personalities of the international jet set. From multi-starred chefs to sport champions, from stylists to the stars of the entertainment world, every week, the market is visited by foremost personalities.

We came for a weekend in 2005, and after twelve years we are still here, in the legendary Marché Serpette.

Here, in our gallery, we have hosted guests of the likes of Alain Ducasse, Madonna, Rod Stewart, Demi Moore, Lionel Richie, and I have had the pleasure of entering into our diary the names of prestigious clients such as Lenny Kravitz, Laetitia Casta, Giambattista Valli, Jean-François Piège . I am deeply honoured.

Our beautiful story continues and it is here that we look forward to welcoming you any day of the week, as we have been doing for such a long time.