All traveling!

short history of carriages through the collections of Piacenza's Civic Museum.

Sedan (1740/1760) by UnknownMusei Civici di Palazzo Farnese


One of the first vehicles, it was intended for the transport of one person only: a cabin with leather walls and glass windows, the side poles of which were carried by servants in short distances. It has ancient origins. It temporarily solved health problems for example gout (widespread among wealthy classes) or simply the weariness of the transported person. It was used until the 18th century, when the easement decreased and gradually it was replaced by the chariot, more practical and comfortable.

The photograph represents one of the sedans exhibited at the Civic Museums: it is in carved wood, leather and bronze with a red velvet interior. It is complete with rods, bands and stirrups.

Farewell of Elizabeth Farnese from the Farnese court on the Cento Croci mountain (1720/1721) by Ilario SpolveriniMusei Civici di Palazzo Farnese

Artistic sources: a detail of the painting by I. Spolverini; the sedans used for transporting some members of the Farnese court to Mount Cento Croci are clearly visible.

The community of Parma offers the town keys to don Charles of Borbone (1733/1733) by Ilario SpolveriniMusei Civici di Palazzo Farnese


... a four-wheeled vehicle usually pulled by horses and designed to carry more people. Used exclusively by the noble class, it was often richly decorated and therefore considered a symbol of economic well-being. I. Spolverini, a painter in the service of the Farnese court, often depicted them in his paintings (on the side we see a detail of "The community of Parma offers the keys of the city to Charles of Bourbon" of 1733).

Berlin carriage (1770/1770) by UnknownMusei Civici di Palazzo Farnese


It was similar to the CHARIOT and spread among the upper middle class families who tried to emulate the noble ones in decorations. Many rulers issued laws that forbade, for example, the excessive use of precious materials. Later, functionality and comfort became more important than the external appearance. Depending on their use, they could be divided into covered, transformable and uncovered carriages. The Civic Museums have a great representation.

This carriage stands out in the Piacenza collection for aesthetics; in fact it still shows golden carvings and accurate paintings. The upholstery, however, is not original.

Berlin carriage (1750/1750) by F. Loyer A TurinMusei Civici di Palazzo Farnese

Covered carriages: the BERLINA

This type was born in the second half of the 17th century at the Prussian court. Coming from the CHARIOT,  It was a massive carriage whose rear wheels had a huge diameter; it could carry up to six people. The first models were sumptuously decorated, but the ornamentation was soon reduced. It was used for public celebrations or for short trips.

Berlina of Gala (1750)
by F. Loyer A Turin

It is the oldest example of the entire collection.

On the doors is depicted the coat-of-arms of an unidentified prelate, on which is represented a hand holding a trumpet and a cartouche with the words "Ognun mi sente"(Everyone hears me).

Gran Coupé for travelling (1805/1815) by Francesco SalaMusei Civici di Palazzo Farnese


Coming directly from the Berlina, at the structural level it was identical, but it had the "cut" case in the front, flush with the door. It could only accommodate two people. It was also comfortable and elegant, but more manageable: therefore particularly suitable for long journeys both in the city and in the countryside.

In this carriage, the interiors (in cotton and silk)and the serpa (driver's seat) with green and gold saddle cloth are very appreciated.

Mail-Coach (1870/1880) by Holland & HollandMusei Civici di Palazzo Farnese

A particular carriage ... the MAIL-COACH

Coming from the Berlina and consisted of a large and roomy carriage with a double driving position. It was an all-English invention and was used by the Postal Service.

This model was very similar to the postal cars of the late 18th century. He was able to carry both suitcases and passengers.

Landau (1880/1890) by FerrettiMusei Civici di Palazzo Farnese

Convertible carriages: the LANDAU

This model always came from the Berlina and took its name from the German city in which the first examples were made, in 1790. It was very widespread and owed its long fortune to the possibility of being converted into a comfortable open carriage.

Caléche-Barouche (1828/1830) by Thomas BaptisteMusei Civici di Palazzo Farnese


It is a revival from the 19th-century gig. The English Barouche and its French variant, the Calechè, had similar characteristics: thin gondola-shaped case and leather cover. They were used in the city in good weather and were exclusive to high society families.

This is one of the finest pieces of the Piacenza collection. Seats for passengers were four, but could be halved by the leather cover.

Victoria (1860/1860) by Enrico OrsanigaMusei Civici di Palazzo Farnese


It was English and the first prototype was built for the Prince of Wales in 1869 on the occasion of his visit to Paris. The model was named after Queen Victoria. It had an elegant line and offered a journey with all the comforts (easy access, wrap-around seat, modern suspension, wheels circled in rubber and continuous fender).

Siamese Phaeton (1880/1880) by Fratelli BaroniMusei Civici di Palazzo Farnese


This carriage consisted of a heavy square case with two front seats, protected by a reclining cover, and two rear ones. The open space in the central part was used for loading packages. It was particularly suitable for the countryside.

A curiosity ...
the production of the Phaeton continued until the early years of the 20th century, when combustion engines were adapted to its strong structure: the first motor vehicles were born.

Hansom-Cab (1860/1870) by Forder BrosMusei Civici di Palazzo Farnese

Two-wheeled carriages: the HANSOM CAB

A "sui generis" carriage that it was used as a taxi in London. It could only carry two people. The guide box was placed behind, in an elevated position. It was particularly suitable for urban traffic due to its limited size; he unraveled quickly and casually through the streets of the city center.

This model was never produced in Italy, as its diffusion remained limited to the Anglo-Saxon countries.
The Piacenza exemplar is as beautiful as it is rare and has never been used on the road.

Pram (1870/1870) by UnknownMusei Civici di Palazzo Farnese


The Civic Museums have an entire section dedicated to "carriages" for babies and children. In the photograph we can see a fine piece: it has an iron structure with four rubber wheels, of which the rear ones have a smaller radius. It is also equipped with a reclining cap in the same color and fabric that covers the interior.

The decoration was carried out with reed canes, so cleverly woven to create refined motifs.

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