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 apartments on the second floor, see the Secondo Piano Nobile.
For the Appartamento di Madama Felicita, see the Piano Terreno.
For items in other parts of the palace, see here.
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 1713 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 wears a white dress and veil, covered by a blue mantle.3 Five years afterhis coronation as King of Sicily, Victor Amadeus II exchanged Sicily for Sardinia.
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.
From the “Sala del Consiglio” it is often possible to turn right into the “Gabinetto Cinese“ (Chinese Cabinet), 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.6 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.7 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.
From the “Sala del Colazione” one can usually enter the “Galleria del Daniel” (Daniel Gallery). This is one of the grandest rooms in the palace. On the left wall were formerly displayed the Savoy family's most treasured paintings, including two now in the Galleria Sabauda: the portrait of King Charles I by Daniel Mytens and Heinrich Steenwyck; and Anthony Van Dyck's group portrait of the three eldest children of King Charles I. The ceiling of the room is frescoed by Daniel Seiter. It shows King Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia, husband of Anne-Marie d'Orléns, being presented on Mount Olympus.
Sometimes it is possible to walk to the middle of the “Galleria del Daniel” and then turn left through the passageway and into 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
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.
Primo Piano Nobile - tour of the northeast rooms
Sometimes some of the rooms in the northeast corner of the “Primo Piano Nobile” can be visited as part of a guided tour. One enters from the courtyard on the ground floor through a doorway in the northeast corner. Then one proceeds up the “Scala dei Principi” (Staircase of the Princes).
The first room to be visited is the “Gabinetto delle Miniature” (Cabinet of the Miniatures). The walls are lined with mirrors in which are set numerous small portraits of members of the Savoy family.
For the “Gabinetto delle Miniature”, see this page.
In the “Camera da lavora della Regina” (Queen's Workroom) there is a marble bust of Queen Marie Clotilde by Felice Festa.14 She wears a pleated mob-cap and the plain penitential clothes which she wore from 1794 until her death. Around her neck she wears a medallion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
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).
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.
3 Castelnuovo and Rosci, II, 558. Felice Festa was born in Turin about 1768 and died in the same city in 1826. He designed and sculpted several tombs for the House of Savoy, including that of King Charles IV in the Chiesa di Sant' Andrea al Quirinale in Rome. He also designed and sculpted the tombs of Charles IV's younger brothers Prince Maurizio of Savoy, Duke of Montferrat (1762-1799) in the cathedral of Alghero, Sardinia, and Prince Giuseppe of Savoy, Count of Asti (1766-1802) in the cathedral of Sassari, Sardinia, as well as the tomb of Charles IV's uncle and brother-in-law, Prince Benedetto of Savoy, Duke of Chablais (1741-1808) formerly in the church of San Nicolo dei Cesarini in Rome, and since 1926 in the Basilica di Superga in Turin.
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 (Sala della Colazione): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 7 (King Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 8 (Anne-Marie d'Orléans): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 9 (Princess Maria Giuseppina of Savoy, sister of King Charles IV and King Victor): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 10 (Princess Eleonora of Savoy, aunt of King Charles IV and King Victor): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 11 (Fireplace screen with image of King Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 12 (King Charles Emanuel III of Sardinia, by Clementi): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 13 (Anne Christine of Sulzbach, Duchess of Savoy): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 14 (Polyxena Christina of Hesse, Queen of Sardinia): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 15 (Family of King Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia, including King Charles IV and King Victor as boys).
Image 16 (Sala del Pranzo): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 17 (Queen Maria Antonia Ferdinanda of Sardinia): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 18 (Camera dell'Alcova): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 19 (Queen Marie Clotilde of Sardinia): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 20 (The Children of King Charles I, by Van Dyck): © Noel S. McFerran 2015.
Image 21 (Bust of Queen Marie Clotilde of Sardinia, by Felice Festa): © Noel S. McFerran 2018.