This palace was the principal childhood home of King Charles IV (King Charles Emanuel IV of Sardinia) and of his brother King Victor (King Victor Emanuel I of Sardinia). They continued to live here with their wives until 1798. After the restoration of Piedmont to the House of Savoy, the palace was the principal residence of King Victor from 1814 to 1821. Many of the rooms are still decorated in the same fashion as they were two hundred years ago. A number of portraits of the Royal Family hang on the walls.
For the other parts of the palace which are not included in the main state rooms, see this page.
Primo Piano Nobile - south side
Only part of the palace - the rooms on the south side of the “Primo Piano Nobile” - is usually open for a self-guided tour.
The main entrance to the palace is by means of the ceremonial staircase of King Victor Emanuel II of Italy. There are several marble busts in the staircase including one of King Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia, husband of Anne-Marie d'Orléans, granddaughter of King Charles I. The bust is a copy of a wood and wax bust which dates from between 1713 and 1718 and has been at the Basilica di Superga since at least 1806.1 Victor Amadeus is shown in armour and wig. Over his armour he wears a cape lined with ermine. Hanging down below the cape is the collar of the Supreme Order of the Annunciation.
The “Salone della Guardia Svizzera” (Hall of the Swiss Guards) is decorated with frescoes recounting the legendary descent of the House of Savoy. One of the frescoes shows a legendary ancestor, Vertegirus, who is described as “Angliae Dux” (Duke of England).
The next room, the “Sala dei Corazzieri” (Room of the Cuirassiers), has a frieze frescoed in 1847 by Francesco Gonin.2 Among the events depicted in the frieze is the coronation of Victor Amadeus II, husband of Anne-Marie d'Orléans, as King of Sicily; he wears a blue mantle with an ermine cape. Anne-Marie can be seen kneeling behind her husband; she also wears a blue mantle.3
To the right of this scene is a depiction of King Victor (King Victor Emanuel I of Sardinia) receiving the keys of the city of Genoa.4 Victor is shown seated on a throne wearing a blue mantle lined with ermine. His younger brother, Charles Felix, can be seen standing next to him. Kneeling in front of King Victor are two representatives of the city of Genoa with keys on a pillow. Genoa had been an independent republic until the Napoleonic invasion in 1797. After the fall of Napoleon in 1814, the old republic was briefly restored, but the Congress of Vienna decided that its territories should be included in the Kingdom of Sardinia which annexed them on January 3, 1815.
After passing though the “Sala degli Staffieri” (Room of the Footmen) and the “Sala dei Paggi” (Room of the Pageboys), one enters the “Sala del Trono del Re” (Throne Room). The throne is surrounded by a gilt wooden balustrade carved with garlands and cupids. It was originally made for the bedchamber of Queen Maria Theresa, wife of King Victor, when she was Duchess of Aosta.
After passing through the “Sala di Udienza” (Audience Room), one enters the “Sala del Consiglio” (Council Room) which was decorated in 1837 with portraits of members of the House of Savoy who were renowned for their sanctity. On the far east wall there is a portrait of Queen Marie Clotilde, wife of King Charles IV (King Charles Emanuel IV of Sardinia) by Michele Cusa.5
From the “Sala del Consiglio” it is often possible to go through the “Gabinetto Cinese“ (Chinese Cabinet) and into the “Medagliere Reale” and the “Armeria Reale”.
If one turns left in the “Sala del Consiglio” and goes through the “Camera da letto di Carlo Alberto” (Bedroom of King Charles Albert), one enters the “Sala della Colazione” (Breakfast Room) with a number of portraits of the Royal Family.
On the south wall to the left of the door by which one enters is an oil portrait by Domenico Duprà of King Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia, father of King Charles IV and King Victor.5a He wears a blue coat with silver braid. Around his neck is the collar of the Supreme Order of the Annunciation.
To the right of the portrait of King Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia is an oil portrait of his grandmother, Anne-Marie d'Orléans, granddaughter of King Charles I.
On the north wall opposite the portraits of King Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia and Anne-Marie d'Orléans is a portrait of Charles IV's sister Princess Maria Giuseppina of Savoy attributed to Domenico Duprà.06 She wears the same blue dress which she wears in another portrait now at the Palazzina di Stupinigi. In her hands is a pencil-drawing which she has just completed.
To the left of the portrait of Princess Maria Giuseppina, on the other side of the fireplace, is a portrait of Princess Eleonora of Savoy also attributed to Domenico Duprà.07 Eleonora was sixth in line to the English and Scottish thrones when she was born in 1728. She was the aunt of King Charles IV and King Victor.
In front of the fireplace is a screen of carved and gilt wood with at its centre a painted image of King Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia. Victor Amadeus was first in line to the English and Scottish thrones from 1788 until his death in 1796. At the top of the screen are a pair of doves, a symbol of marital bliss. It is thought to have been a wedding gift from Victor Amadeus to his daughter-in-law, Marie Clotilde of France, when she married the future King Charles IV in 1775. The screen was designed by Giuseppe Maria Bonzanigo; the wooden parts were carved by Vittorio Amedeo Rapous, while the painted parts were completed by his brother Michele Antonio Rapous.
After passing through the “Galleria del Daniel” (Daniel Gallery), one enters the “Sala del Caffè” (Coffee Room). On the walls of this room hangs a portrait of King Charles Emanuel III of Sardinia, grandfather of King Charles IV and King Victor, as well as portraits of his first two wives. From 1715 to 1720 and from 1766 to 1773 this prince was second in line to the thrones of England and Scotland (and from 1728 to 1766 he was third in line).
The portrait of Charles Emanuel III is by Maria Giovanna Clementi.8 He is shown in armour over which he wears a red mantle trimmed with ermine. In his right hand he holds a marshall's baton.
The portrait of Anne Christine of Sulzbach, first wife of King Charles Emanuel III of Sardinia (when Prince of Piedmont), is also by Clementi.9 Anne Christine died five days after giving birth in 1723 to Vittorio Amedeo, Duke of Aosta (who was fourth in line to the English and Scottish thrones until his death in 1725).
The portrait of Polyxena Christina of Hesse, second wife of King Charles Emmanuel III of Sardinia, and grandmother of King Charles IV and King Victor, is also by Clementi.10
Next to the “Sala del Caffè” - but unfortunately never open - is the “Scala delle Arie” (Staircase of the Arie). Here is displayed a large group portrait of the family of Victor Amadeus, Duke of Savoy (later King Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia); the work dates from 1760 and is attributed to Giuseppe Duprà.11 At the centre of the painting, climbing the stairs, can be seen the nine-year-old future Charles IV. He wears an armoured breastplate over a gold and blue coat. To his left is his infant brother Victor who wears a baby's bonnet and a gold and blue shawl; he holds an arrow in his right hand. Charles reaches out his hand to his father Victor Amadeus who wears a metal breastplate over a gold coat; wrapped around his shoulders is a great red cloak with ermine lining. He points to an obelisk decorated with a carved relief showing two putti, one holding the arms of the House of Savoy and the other holding two olive branches, the symbol of peace. Next to Victor Amadeus is his wife Infanta Maria Antonia Ferdinanda of Spain; she wears a blue gown and a red cloak with ermine lining. With each of her hands she points towards her two sons. At the far left of the painting are Charles and Victor's sisters, Maria Giuseppina and Maria Theresa. Behind Victor is another sister Maria Anna.
Sometimes from the “Sala del Caffè” it is possible to visit the “Sala da Pranzo” (Dining Room). Above each of the four doors of this room is a portrait of Queen Maria Antonia Ferdinanda of Sardinia, mother of King Charles IV and King Victor.
The room immediately after the “Sala del Caffè” is the “Camera dell'Alcova” (Alcove Room). Above the ornate gilt arch of the room is an oval portrait of Queen Marie Clotilde of Sardinia (wife of King Charles IV) by Angelo Vacca juniore.12 Marie Clotilde is shown seated at a table. The painting dates from between 1796 and 1798. From the mid-seventeenth century it was the custom for a portrait of the wife of the head of the house of Savoy to be placed above the arch of this room. Marie Clotilde was the last consort before the Napoleonic invasion in 1798. After the restoration of the Savoys in 1814 the custom was not continued and the portrait of Marie Clotilde stayed in place.13
On the wall facing the alcove is a copy of Sir Anthony Van Dyck's group portrait of the three eldest children of King Charles I: the future King Charles I, Mary, Princess of Orange, and King James II and VII. The original painting is in the Galleria Sabauda.
2 Francesco Gonin was born at Turin in 1808 and died at Gioveno in 1889. In addition to the “Sala dei Corazzieri”, he decorated the “Salla da Ballo”. He also frescoed some walls at the Castello di Racconigi.
5 Cf. Catalogo Generale dei Beni Culturali. The oil on canvas painting measures 148 cm high by 97 cm wide (without frame). Michele Cusa was born at Rimella Valsessia in 1799 and died at Varallo in 1870. In 1828 King Charles Felix of Sardinia (younger brother of King Charles IV and King Victor) recruited him to teach at the Accademia Albertina di Belli Arti in Turin.
5a Cf. Catalogo Generale dei Beni Culturali. The oil on canvas painting measures 106 cm high by 75 cm wide (without frame). Domenico Duprà was born in Turin in 1689 and died in the same city in 1770. He painted numerous portraits for the Savoy family. Between 1740 and 1744 he painted at least eight portraits for the Stuarts (one of James III and VIII, and several of each of his sons). There are portraits by him of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Henry, Duke of York at the Palacio de Liria in Madrid, and of Henry, Duke of York in the Musée de l'histoire de France at the Palace of Versailles.
6 Cf. Catalogo Generale dei Beni Culturali The oil on canvas portrait measures 108 cm high by 75 cm wide (without frame).
7 Cf. Catalogo Generale dei Beni Culturali The oil on canvas portrait measures 100 cm high by 76 cm wide (without frame).
8 Cf. Catalogo Generale dei Beni Culturali The oil on canvas portrait measures 154 cm high by 115 cm wide (including frame). Maria Giovanna Clementi, called “La Clementina” was born at Turin in 1690 and died at the same city in 1761. She painted many portraits and miniatures for the Savoy court. There is another of her portraits of Charles Emanuel III of Sardinia at the Museo Civico d'Arte Antica in Palazzo Madama.
9 Cf. Catalogo Generale dei Beni Culturali. The oil on canvas portrait measures 99 cm high by 65 cm wide (without frame).
10 Cf. Catalogo Generale dei Beni Culturali. The oil on canvas portrait measures 154 cm high by 115 cm wide (including frame).
11 Enrico Castelnuovo and Marco Rosci, Cultura figurativa e architettonica negli Stati del Re di Sardegna, 1773-1861 (Torino: Città di Torino, 1980), I, 4-5. Cf. Catalogo Generale dei Beni Culturali. The oil on canvas painting measures 273 cm high and 328 cm wide. Giuseppe Duprà was born in Turin in 1703 and died in the same city in 1784. He was the younger brother of Domenico Duprà.
12 Laureati and Trezzani, 188. Angelo Vacca juniore was born in Turin in 1782 or 1783; he died in 1823. He was the son of Angelo Vacca seniore. Vacca juniore painted numerous portraits of the Royal Family especially of King Victor. Cf. Schede Vesme, III, 1063-1064. There is a photograph of the portrait in Nicola Brancaccio and Maria Adriana Prolo, Dal nido savoiardo al trono d'Italia: vita e politica dei Savoia dall'anno 1000 al 1870 (Milano: Libri Fecondi, 1930), facing p. 226. There is a similar portrait of Marie Clotilde on the second floor of the Palazzina at the Palazzo del Quirinale in Rome.
Image 1 (Palazzo Reale facade): "Turismo Torino", http://www.turismotorino.org.
Image 2 (King Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia, husband of Anne-Marie d'Orléans): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 3 (Coronation of Victor Amadeus II as King of Sicily): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 4 (King Victor receiving the keys of the city of Genoa): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 5 (Balustrade formerly in Queen Maria Theresa's bedroom): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 6 (Queen Marie Clotilde of Sardinia): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 7 (Sala della Colazione): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 8 (King Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 9 (Anne-Marie d'Orléans): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 10 (Princess Maria Giuseppina of Savoy, sister of King Charles IV and King Victor): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 11 (Princess Eleonora of Savoy, aunt of King Charles IV and King Victor): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 12 (Fireplace screen with image of King Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 13 (King Charles Emanuel III of Sardinia, by Clementi): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 14 (Anne Christine of Sulzbach, Duchess of Savoy): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 15 (Polyxena Christina of Hesse, Queen of Sardinia): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 16 (Family of King Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia, including King Charles IV and King Victor as boys).
Image 17 (Sala del Pranzo): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 18 (Queen Maria Antonia Ferdinanda of Sardinia): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 19 (Camera dell'Alcova): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 20 (Queen Marie Clotilde of Sardinia): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 21 (The Children of King Charles I, by Van Dyck): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.