Panel with a Vase of Flowers, 1600–1650, Florence, Italy

Panel with a Vase of Flowers (detail), 1600–1650, Florence, Italy, attributed to Matteo Nigetti, Opificio della Pietre Dure (Granducal Hardstone Workshops). Hardstones (lapis lazuli, amethyst, Sicilian jasper, Sienese agate, chalcedony, and carnelian), marbles (verde antico, rosso antico, bianco e nero), and alabaster, set into black Belgian marble, 52 3/4 x 27 5/8 in. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, gift of Diane B. Wilsey, Roscoe and Margaret Oakes Income Fund, Raymond L. Parker Bequest Fund, Dorothy Spreckels Munn Bequest Fund, Ruth L. & Alfred B. Koch Trust; Genevieve Knowles Woods Bequest Fund; Fine Arts Museums Foundation Auction Proceeds; and the Michael Taylor Fund, 2005.93

About European decorative arts

European Decorative Arts have been an essential part of the Legion of Honor since its founding. In addition to her own collections, the Legion’s founder, Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, secured donations of French 18th-century furniture, decorative arts, and mounted porcelain from the Collis P. Huntington Collection and Mildred Anna Williams. Mrs. Spreckels also received gifts of contemporary Sèvres porcelain from the French government that reinforced the collection’s focus on the artistic culture of France.

Ranging in scope from late medieval to modern times, the collection has expanded in recent years to cover many other regions of Europe, with highlights such as a Spanish ceiling dating from about 1500, a hard-stone panel from the grand-ducal workshops of Florence of 1600 – 1650, and a Nymphenburg crucifixion group modeled by Franz Anton Bustelli contained in a house altar from Munich, ca. 1760. Notable French decorative arts include Pierre Gole’s spectacular ebony cabinet from ca. 1650, a settee made for Queen Marie-Antoinette, the Coventry secrétaire of 1763 made by B.V.R.B., and three period rooms, including the recently renovated Salon Doré from the Hôtel de La Trémoille, Paris. Highlights of British decorative arts include Horace Walpole’s commode of 1763 from Strawberry Hill, west of London, furniture from St. Giles House, Dorset, and grand silver by Paul Storr. Among the collection’s porcelain masterworks are a magnificent Meissen vase representing early production from the factory of Augustus the Strong, a set of vases from Sèvres of 1768, and the extensive Bowles collection, showcasing the history of English porcelain in the 18th century. Twentieth-century standouts are a Fabergé tea table and silver tea service given by a member of the former Russian imperial family that is one of the Legion’s earliest acquisitions.