Italian Renaissance Style Library Table

Item 4171 by M. Markley Antiques


Italian antique dining table

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Item 4171 Italian Renaissance Table or Executive Desk
Dimensions  Width 72; Height 35; Depth35 (in inches)
Wood  Walnut
Country  Italy
Date  Circa 1880

This Italian table reminds us what it means when something is made of "solid" walnut.  It is massive due to the solidity of the wood, resolute, exuding security and stability.  This is balanced by the intricacy of the carving and the architectural design taken from the original shape for the Italian Renaissance library table.  Generally smaller in size, a library table is characterized by broad supports at either end, a frieze just below the tabletop,  and a central "H" shaped stretcher atop intricately carved lioin's feet or piedi di leoni.  This table adopts each of these elements but they are embodied in a piece of a larger size than the library tables dating from Renaissance times.

What drew us to this table were two things - the magnificence of the wood and the lions.  For us, walnut has always been king - a wood whose texture lends itself to intricate carving and whose grain is complex yet fine.  It can be stained very dark, as it was for many 19th century reproductions of furniture dating from the Middle Ages, or it can be lighter, as this table is, in the Renaissance style.

The Renaissance Italians loved lions, depicting heads and feet with virtuosic carvings, especially in the matrimonial chests crafted to hold a bride's dowry of pricey linens on the journey across Florence to the groom's residence.  That fondness is reflected in the lions' heads facing outward from the vertical supports of this table, their unruly manes framing faces bearing fierce expressions.  The lions' paws forming the four feet at the base of the vertical supports are among the most intricately carved and lifelike we have seen.

Other interesting design aspects of this table include the unusually wide frieze below the top and the "H" shaped stretcher.  Both elements are decorated with a chain-like motif of circles connected by lines in a rhythmic pattern contrasting with the curves and scrolls found on the vertical supports.



Ader-Tajan, Collection Bruno Perrier Haute Epoque (Catalog for Sale at Auction on April 6, 1992 at the Hôtel Drouot, Paris); Boccador, Jacqueline, Le Mobilier Français du Moyen Age à la Renaissance, Editions d'Art Monelle Hayot (Saint-Just-en-Chaussée, 1988); Boussel, Patrice, Les Styles du Moyen Age à Louis XIV  (Baschet et Cie, Paris, 1979); Thirion, Jacques, Le Mobilier du Moyen Age et de la Renaissance en France (Editions Faton, Dijon, 1998)



Perhaps originally destined as a dining table covered by a tablecloth, more modern uses for this table favor an executive desk or library table - situations in which the magnificence of the hue and grain of the top could be admired.


4171-walnut top dining table




4171-lion detail


4171-lion's paw


4171-under table




4171-italian dining table antique


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