Italian Renaissance style dining table is a charming example of the ruffles and
flourishes that endear the Italians furniture designers to us. Just as the innovators of the Renaissance in
quattrocento Florence drew on aspects of Roman design such as arches, columns,
capitals and rhythmic gadrooning seen on building dating from ancient times,
their 19th century descendents continued to use these elements in furniture to
evoke empire, strength, permanence and originality.
interesting that a table in this shape, approximately half as wide as it long,
would not have existed in Renaissance times when tables fell into two distinct
categories - those to be seen and those to be covered by textiles. It was common for the dining table variety
to be simple, based on a plank laid over sawhorses, since it would have been
covered by opulent textiles conveying to visiting diners a sense of the owner's
prosperity. On the other hand, a table
designed to be viewed would be of the "library" variety, long and
narrow, standing in the middle of a room where elaborately carved base and
frieze could be duly admired. For
examples, see items 4171 and 9210.
designer of this table has taken the best of both worlds in a time when
industrial manufacture of textiles made them cheaper and less symbolic of
wealth than handcrafted furniture, on the upswing as objects of desire and
symbols of wealth. A dining table such
as this would likely have been part of a set with chairs and cabinets,
commissioned for a specific space.
table's basic design is an H-shaped stretcher as the base, in which the outside
members have been angled inward. This
base sits on massive bun feet, not of the plain variety used in France but
bearing vertical indentations to reflect the rhythmic decoration used throughout
the piece such as the stylized gadrooning of the base, as well as the dentil
moulding and two different variations of the pearl-and-bar motif on the frieze
below the tabletop. All convey the
sense of its origins in classical architecture and a mastery of the decorative
devices used by builders of Roman times.
so many tables dating from Italy in the 19th century, this one reveals no
short-cuts or cheating - it is 100% solid walnut with no veneers. And while there is some insect damage on the
feet, this does not impact the table's structural integrity.