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Monastery Refectory Furniture with an Unusual Past

Published on , by Anne Doridou-Heim

Renaissance furniture finds a new home after leaving the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Monastery Refectory Furniture with an Unusual Past

Central Italy, dated 1567, signed "Branchia da Mondaino", Augustinian monastery refectory furniture in walnut, inlaid with cherry wood, including two tables (83 x 484/32.7 x 190.6 in and 80 x 223 cm/31.5 x 87.8 in), a credenza (106 x 223 cm/41.7 x 87.8 in) and a wood panel (230 cm x 2.357 m/90.6 in x 7 ft. 9 in).
Result: €156,000

An article in the November 12 issue of La Gazette reported what is known of the history of this Augustinian convent refectory furniture from Recanati, Province of Macerata, in the Marche region, in Italy, dating to 1567. The piece mentioned its various owners through to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which acquired it in 1959 with an eye to creating a Renaissance period room. The museum eventually sold these rare relics to a collector, who now parted with them in turn. This set of furniture, including a large wood panel, benches, two long tables and a credenza, fetched €156,000. The craftsman’s name remains lost to history, but we do know that Tommaso Branchia de Mondaino commissioned it.

Some sell; others buy. At €26,000, the Musée d'Art et d'Archéologie in Guéret preempted a votive relief (82 x 72 x 21 cm/32.3 x 28.3 x 8.3 in) from the abbey of Notre-Dame-du-Palais de Bourganeuf in the Limousin region. The accepted date of the abbey’s founding and probable consecration is November 3, 1162. The stone piece is engraved with the year 1412—placing it in the middle of the Hundred Years War between France and England: a tumultuous time for the abbey. Its subject is the legend of Saint Eustachius, one of the 14 intercessor saints, clearly called upon here to protect the Cistercian community—no accident on the part of the patron.

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