Stefano Cardu, an Italian Contractor in Siam at the End of the 19th Century

His Life and His Art Collection

  • Ruben Fais Independent scholar

Abstract

The Stefano Cardu Museum of Siamese Art in Cagliari displays an important collection of Oriental art which was collected by Stefano Cardu during the thirty years he spent in Bangkok in the last quarter of the 19th century, while working successfully as a building contractor. In 1914 Cardu donated his collection to the city of Cagliari that is now one of the most important Siamese art collections outside Thailand. This article aims to provide a new and fully documented reconstruction of various phases of Cardu’s life through a comparative analysis of unpublished information available in the archives of Bangkok and Cagliari and works of art in the collection. The gift of the collection to the city of Cagliari is a well-known philanthropic gesture, but at the same time, it hides a complex bureaucratic controversy between the donor and the town administrators, that is here reported through the letters of Cardu and related public documents. Furthermore, this article aims to celebrate two important anniversaries: the centennial of the donation in 1914 and the first opening of the Siamese museum at the City Hall in 1918.

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References

Italian Archives
Aru 1923: letter of Carlo Aru, the Supervisor of the monuments of Sardinia, to the Prefectural Commissioner Vittorio Tredici, 22 July 1923. AMCC
Cardu 1914: letter of S. Cardu to the Mayor Ottone Bacaredda, 22 June 1914. AMCC
Cardu 1917: letter of S. Cardu to the Prefectural Commissioner Giuseppe Manno, 12 September 1917. AMCC
Cardu 1919: letter of S. Cardu to the Prefectural Commissioner Giuseppe Manno, 22 June 1919. AMCC
Cardu 1923: handwritten sales inventory by S. Cardu, 26 April 1923, pp. 1-9. AMCC
Cardu 1923a: letter of S. Cardu to the director of the City Museums Michele Pinna, 28 April 1923. AMCC
Cardu 1923b: letter of S. Cardu to the Mayor Gavino Dessi Deliperi, 30 April 1923. AMCC
Cardu 1923c: letter of S. Cardu to the Mayor Gavino Dessi Deliperi, 24 May1923. AMCC
Cardu 1923d: letter of S. Cardu to the General Secretary of the City of Cagliari A. Puligheddu, 29 July 1923. AMCC
Cardu 1923e: Stefano Cardu, Il Museo Cardu, in Unione Sarda, 5 May 1923, N° 105. AMCC
Cardu 1927: letter of S. Cardu to his friend Ugo, 10 April 1927. AMCC
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Library Archivist 1922: Sunto degli atti e osservazioni relative alla donazione Cardu, written by the Library Archivist, illegible signature, January 1922. AMCC
Library Archivist 1923: Letter of the Library Archivist to Major Gavino Dessi Deliperi, illegible signature, 27 April 1923. AMCC
Library Archivist 1923a: Letter of the Library Archivist to the Prefectural Commissioner Vittorio Tredici, illegible signature, 10 July 1923. AMCC
Manno 1917: letter of the Prefectural Commitioner Giuseppe Manno to S. Cardu, 20 September 1917. AMCC
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Thailand Archives
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Published
2020-05-01
Section
Articles