The mixed-technique 19th century panels feature elements of needle painting, or embroidery with coloured silk thread, completed by Princess Isabella Albertini De’ Medici di Ottajano, and oil painting by the Marquis Filippo Petrone.
One, completed in 1814, is a portrait of the princess with her son Carlo, measuring 3ft 3in x 2ft 8in (99 x 81cm). The other is a Portrait of the Young Gentlemen and Gentlelady di Ottajano, Serafina Gaetanino and Ciccillo completed in 1815 and measuring 2ft 4in x 3ft 1in (71 x 94.5cm).
These are the only known works by the princess. Made with high-quality silk, they are in a good state of preservation and are also remarkable for their size. While most needle paintings are small and ovoid, each of these compositions stretches more than 2ft 4in (71cm) wide.
Galleria Carlo Virgilio, a fine art dealer from Rome, offered the two works as part of its exhibition Patterns: from Narcissus to Salome held on Jermyn Street during London Art Week’s week-long run (December 1-8). The two works once belonged to Italian 20th century literary historian and critic Natalino Sapegno (1901-90).
Each was purchased for a five-figure sum and the two works are now en route to the US.