table is in our collection because of its base. Known in the French antique world as a table croix de Lorraine
(cross of Lorraine table) because of the shape of the base, the origins of the
style are nonetheless Italian, like so much of Renaissance design that crossed
the Alps in the brains of Catherine de' Medici's Florentine artisans, back when
she married the future King Henri II of France.
appellation cross of Lorraine was attached to this type of table in more recent
times, evoking everything from Joan of Arc during the Hundred Years War, to the
Dukes of Anjou, to the French Resistance movement during World War II and a
film with that title starring Gene Kelly.
What distinguishes the cross of Lorraine from other crosses is that it
has two horizontal crossbars rather than the one crossbar characteristic of the
A typical croix de Lorraine table was small,
based on a 16th century design for a library table, and almost austere in its
lack of decoration The base was
comprised of a substantial, architectural moulding in the shape of central
stretcher with two cross-bars. Tables
could have as many as six crossbars and anywhere from seven to eleven vertical
supports in the form of unfluted, Doric columns. The typical adornment was limited to toupies (pendentives or
finials), extending downward, at the four corners of the table.
table is faithful to the original Renaissance design, right down to the
extensions, as seen in two tables (formerly in the collection of Mme Jacqueline
Boccador) that were made in Lyon between 1570 and 1580 (page 277 of Madame's
work, referenced below). Just as with
the older versions from Lyon, our table is characterized by a light walnut
color with a richness of grain that reinforces the notion that the wood itself
is the focus and little ornamentation is necessary.
ornament there is involves embellishment at the ends, below the top at the
intersection of the legs and the frieze.
A flourish in the form of a coiled acanthus leaf surrounding a flower is
found at the outer edges of each end and a simple garland decorates the arch
uniting the tops of the two columns.
the homage to the Renaissance croix de Lorraine design are toupies at the four
corners of the table in a simple acknowledgement of its ancestry tied to the
Renaissance library table.
this table is constructed in the same manner as its Renaissance forebears with
the top extending lengthwise in a draw-leaf fashion (entretoise). As shown below, the top is removed and the
leaves are extended to their full length.
this table differs from the typical Renaissance design is in the construction
of the top. Instead of single planks,
the central portion and the two extensions are each a lighter colored wood
veneer within a darker frame, intended to draw attention to the grain of the
central portion. When the table
arrived, the veneer was damaged. It has
been replaced with a wood veneer evoking Renaissance-era walnut.