Very fine late 18th Century Italian gilt wood console table with marble top possibly from Florentine.
Italian Possibly Florentine – Circa 1780
This exceptionally fine table, of rectangular design, achieves its exquisite decorative impact through intricate gilded carving. In contrast to French pieces of the same era relying on ormolu mounts or English counterparts emphasizing inlay or painted detail, this table stands out as a masterful display of carving.
The top has a carefully selected fossil marble, chosen for its delightful colour and figuring, complemented by a complex moulded edge for added decorative flair. The top is supported by a conventional four legged side table base with a protruding central section and protruding blocks where the legs meet the frame. These blocks are ornamented with finely carved floral paterae and the central section has a mask of Apollo, the sun god, with the rays of the sun visible behind his face
Beyond his role as the sun god, Apollo, also associated with arts and poetry, hints at the original owner’s cultured taste. There are also very fine panels of floral ornament to the front and both sides of the frieze of the table-discussed below. All of these panels are surrounded by beautiful carved beaded mouldings. The legs on the table incorporate beading, turning, swags of harebells, fluting, spiral fluting and terminate in carved toupie feet. The gilded surface has been burnished in places and left matte in others in the manner of a fine piece of ormolu and this would have reflected candlelight in the most magnificent manner when the piece was first unveiled. The marble top has an historic professional repair, which is often the case with heavily veined marble like this example, and almost invisible to the eye.
The Source for the Carved Floral Ornament
It is highly likely that the floral ornament carved with such delicacy on the front and sides of the frieze of the table was drawn from the work of G. B. Piranesi, and in particular a vase from the Borghese villa illustrated in his seminal Vasi, owned at the time by William Beckford Snr. The relevant plate is illustrated here-see the base of the vase which employs a highly similar decorative frieze consisting of central flower and scrolling foliage.
A related table is illustrated in G. Morazzoni, IL MOBILE NEOCLASSICO ITALIANO, pl. CXCI