Henry Kress, with his “Mrs” [sic] and a certain “Sig. Girard,” paid a visit to the Florentine dealer Ugo Bardini, who had very recently taken over the business of his father, Stefano Bardini (1836 – 1 922). The group spent four hours looking at the hundreds of objects of fine and decorative art, furniture, and rugs on display in Bardini’s gallery showrooms. They also toured the dealer’s vast storage facilities, located across the street in Palazzo Mozzi. Among the things Kress purchased and eventually shipped across the Atlantic were two green chairs bearing the coat of arms of the Piccolomini family and two red velvet chairs with gilt decoration. Kress also selected six small coats of arms bearing pictograms of a bridge, a crossed escutcheon, roses on a band, nine balls, and lions. He chose four more coats of arms, in marble, one from the Castellani family, from storage rooms in the basement.
Stefano Bardini’s sizable fortune meant that Ugo had spent his youth in good schools, training as an artist and earnestly investing in his equestrian skills. When Kress visited, Ugo was thirty-five years old and still relatively new to the actual transactional aspects of art dealing, since he had probably just begun to learn the business when his father died. Until his own death in 1965, Ugo kept diaries recording the visits of scores of foreigners and Italians who came to shop for art and decorative arts, either for their own collections or for resale. To prepare for return visits, Ugo wrote detailed remarks about each shopper’s taste, noting who accompanied the visitor (either in the role of advisor or as someone acting on commission to bring clients in to visit). Ugo animated his entries by sketching little portrait caricatures of his (largely male) buyers, his pen expressing their faces as well as details of their hats, cravats, eyeglasses, cigars, and other accessories.