Kneehole writing desk, €9000 (£7650) at Bolli & Romiti.

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Bugatti (1856-1940) was undoubtedly a product of 19th century European Orientalism, and his ideas were much inspired by Moorish, Islamic and Japanese design.

But he did have a voice all his own and considered himself outside the prevailing artistic movements of the day. He called his business Bugatti & C., Fabbrica Mobili Artistici Fantasia (C Bugatti & Co, Artistic Fantasies Furniture Factory).

All sold

A dozen examples of Bugatti’s extraordinary furniture designs were offered by Bolli & Romiti (30% buyer’s premium) in Rome on February 7. All 12 lots sold with prices ranging from €4500 to €15,000.

At the top end of the price range was a pair of two-piece ebonised cabinets, each measuring 8ft 4in tall x 4ft 10in wide (2.82 x 1.46m).

The pewter inlays inspired by hieroglyphics achieved by carving the designs into the wood and then filling them with molten white metal. Offered as separate lots, they went to the same buyer at €15,000 (£12,750) each.


A two-piece ebonised cabinet by Carlo Bugatti, €15,000 (£12,750) at Bolli & Romiti.

Very few Bugatti pieces can be firmly dated. While the first visual documentation of his work emerges in 1888 (nine pieces of his furniture were illustrated in the Queen, The Lady’s Newspaper as part of the Italian Exhibition in Earls Court, London), most pieces are dated to c.1900. Similarly, as little documentation appears to have survived, it is unknown how many pieces were made.

A particularly scarce form sold at Bolli & Romiti at €11,000 (£9350) was a large mirror measuring 8ft (2.38m) across x 4ft 1in (1.22m) high. It displays many typical Bugatti characteristics: the union of lacquered wood, vellum decorated in a soft brown wash, strips of beaten copper and fabric fringes and tassels. The use of asymmetry in the design is something Bugatti took from Japonism.

Sold to a LiveAuctioneers bidder at €9000 (£7650) was a kneehole writing desk with a bank of four drawers.

Inlaid with partially gilt pewter and bone and covered to the top in parchment, it has a candle stand with a rope fringe.