Important and very rare pair of micromosaic, malachite and walnut console tables

GBP 750,000.00

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Object Description

Important and very rare pair of micromosaic, malachite and walnut console tables
Italian & Russian, Early 19th Century
Height 89cm, width 106.5cm, depth 62cm

These exceptionally beautiful antique console tables in walnut, malachite, and applied with ormolu, feature mosaics which are attributed Antonio de Angelis, c.1810, who was one of the very best mosaicists active in early 19th Century Italy. He is mentioned in the ‘Archivo della Reverenda Fabbrica di San Pietro’ (1816) as an artist operating outside of the Vatican Studios, and the attribution of the mosaics to him is virtually certain due to the signature, the exceptional artistic quality, and the works’ striking stylistic similarities to two other signed micromosaics by de Angelis.

Each table is crafted from walnut with a rectangular malachite top, inlaid and centred by the micromosaic panels. One depicts a wooded landscape with classical ruins, with an anthemion border to the exterior, while the other depicts water fowl in a lakeland setting, in turn framed with a border of intertwining foliates. Both table tops sit above an egg and dart frieze which is ornamented with relief cast gilt appliques of classical scenes. The able are mounted on square legs that are headed with ormolu figural busts of Mercury and applied with caducei on a platform base. One of the micromosaics (that of the water fowl) is signed ‘AD’ to the lower left.

The inspiration for the design of the waterfowl is possibly derived from the prints and paintings of Wenceslaus Peter (1742-1829), an artist who frequently sold his works to mosaicists. He earned a reputation as the finest painter of animals and birds of the age, the Italian equivalent, if you will, of the beloved English artist George Stubbs, with whom he shared certain artistic qualities, particularly the neoclassical interest in ‘nature red in tooth and claw.’

The landscape, correspondingly, is likely inspired by the works of Jacob Philipp Hackert (1737-1807), a German painter who like Peter worked primarily in Italy on landscapes. Meanwhile, the craftsmanship for the tables is very similar to that of Heinrich Gambs (1765-1831), a maker who supplied furniture to the Russian Imperial court until the mid-19th Century.

Although the tables are of Russian origin, their design takes inspiration from 18th and 19th Century French art and architecture. The frieze mounts portray amusing scenes of Bacchic putti, maiden, youth and fauns, remarkably cast in deep relief and chased in a sculptural manner that is striking, setting it apart from works of the Parisian masters of the 19th Century. One of the frieze mounts depicts a nymph, a youth and a satyr in playful embrace whilst the other depicts a putto in an attempt to prevent a goat from reaching a vine above a smouldering altar. These same designs are also featured on a magnificent malachite-veneered clock in the Tretyakov State Museum, Moscow.

Object History

Sotheby’s Parke Bernet, Monaco, 24 June 1976, lot 185

Object Literature

Alffieri, M. in Gabriel, J.H., The Gilbert Collection of Micromosaics (2000), London, p.264.

Guattani, G.A., Memorie Enciclopediche Romane, vol. IV (1806-19), Rome, p.157.

Lady Morgan, France in 1829-30, vol.II (1830), London, p.177.

Petochi, D., Mosaici Minuti Romani (1981), Florence, p.55.

Semyonov, S.B., Malachite (1987) Sverdlovsk, p.193, ill. 58-61; p.180, ill. 42.

Sychev, I., Russian Bronze (2003), Moscow, pp.99 & 224.

Object Details

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