As in other Savoy residences, Rivoli too had a Chinese drawing room, designed in 1793 by Carlo Randoni, who also designed the furniture for it, as evidenced from a drawing preserved at the Archivio di Stato in Turin.
The room connects the Duchess of Aosta’s apartment with that of the Prince of Piedmont and offers a wholly “Chinese-style” decoration.
The painting on the ceiling and wooden parts are by Francesco Rebaudengo in imitation of a pavilion with a canvas roof opening to the sky to reveal flying dragons. On the sides, there are scenes of Chinese life, adapted from the wallpaper used in the Castello di Racconigi, where the painter worked in the Chinese rooms of the princes of Carignano.
On the walls, there are columns carved by artists from the circle of Bonzanigo: Giovanni Antonio Gritella, Giovanni Fumario and Giuseppe Gianotti, who produced the baskets of flowers, no longer present, and the cornices crowned by small Chinese heads with characteristic point hats; between the columns, it is assumed that there used to be either Chinese wallpaper or mirrors.
The wooden fire-screen with an Oriental scene is still present; it shows a nobleman, a servant providing shade with an umbrella and another intent on preparing tea, plus a parrot on a perch.
The room has been greatly damaged as regards both the ceiling and walls, but it has its original wooden floor. This type of floor was used in practically every room on this floor.
Did you know?
The Chinese style
From around 1600, Europe became fascinated with the Orient: thanks to the various East India Companies, precious items such as lacquer, silk, paper and porcelain began to arrive in quantity in Europe, and little by little, these were used to embellish the residences of kings and princes.
This “fever” led to the creation – in Piedmont too – of rooms in the manner of these distant locations. The Savoy family also succumbed: Palazzo Reale, for instance, had three Chinese drawing rooms, one by Filippo Juvarra, another that was slightly earlier than the one in Castello di Rivoli and one made for the Dukes of Aosta.
At Aglié, Govone, Stupinigi, Moncalieri and Racconigi, for example, the rooms were decorated with wallpaper from China depicting everyday scenes, flowers and birds, or the main production cycles of silk, rise, tea and porcelain.
In Piedmont as in the rest of Europe, the taste for chinoiserie grew, and local artists, such as Rebaudengo, active in Rivoli and the other residences, drew inspiration from the objects arriving from the East to decorate the rooms of the Savoy dynasty and of the subalpine aristocracy generally.