Rare 19th century Sicilian Donkey Cart Fragment

ORIGIN: Sicily, Italy
AGE: Early 19th century
DIMENSIONS: 54” wide x 11.25” h x .5” thick
MATERIALS: Wood, paint
CONDITION: Good considering its age and use; wear and losses to the paint; authentic wear to the wood from use; holes from where it had been attached to the cart’s structure; two pieces of wood have been screwed to the back which add stability and also have eye hooks for hanging on a wall.


An exceptionally old and rare handcarved and painted wood piece from a Sicilian donkey cart. This fragment was a sidewall of a highly decorated cart – a folk art tradition in Sicily that dates back hundreds of years. The paintings often depict the battles of Charlemagne and his Paladin knights, such as the stories of the heroic knight Orlando (Roland). This piece has two wonderfully detailed scenes - one with knights and horses seemingly heading off to battle, and another scene with knights in a discussion with a seated leader, perhaps Charlemagne. The piece is decorated with borders of geometric patterns and handcarved cherubs.

Originally, the Sicilian donkey carts were used to bring goods to town over the rough and steep trails in the countryside. Nowadays, as they are increasingly rare, the carts are used for important celebrations such as religious processions and weddings.