What intrigued us
most about this table was the architectural ornamentation in the Gothic style
comprising the base. While some
variation of an "X" shape is not that unusual, this one has a central panel at
the juncture with legs on either side of it and another leg midway into each
arm of the "X."
The legs are masterpieces of the carver's art, especially the tiny porticos, complete with
columns, Gothic tracery, and a crocketed
pediment with an upward pointing acanthus leaf atop its center. Completing each arm of the "X" is an octagon
at whose center is a carved fleurette and below which is room for a caster,
which we have added.
Uniting the arms of the "X" is a panel with Gothic tracery at the bottom -- a simple, pointed
arch subdivided by three soufflets or elongated quatrefoils. At the spandrels and the base are acanthus
leaves extending from a central stem.
The top of the table is solid oak and surrounded by a wide frieze in the Gothic style. Mouchettes or elliptical tracery alternates
with quatrefoils in a pleasing array of decoration discouraging the use of a
Throughout the19th century and up to World War II, it was common for French dining tables to
be constructed in one of two ways -- with draw-leaves pulling out from
underneath or with a framework in the center into which additional leaves could
be set. In the former case, the leaves
are almost always intact since they are an inherent part of the structure. However, in the latter case, the leaves
-- sometimes as many as 8 in order to seat up to 20 people -- were invariably separated
from the table as it made its way from owner to owner. These tables were cumbersome because of the
extra frames and wheels that folded up underneath in order to support the heavy
leaves when in use.
For a large, formal dining room in today's homes a smaller table without leaves is not
adequate. The solution? Craft new leaves matching the original design
and materials. In fact, this is a better
outcome than if the original leaves were available, since they were rarely of
the same wood and were not finished to match the rest of the top. There was no need, since the table would
invariably be covered by a cloth when used in its extended mode.
To give this table a new life, our master woodcarver has created two leaves to match the
original table top so that the future owners can have the long table they
desire but without needing to hide it under a cloth when fully extended.
In order to make the extension process work smoothly, the table has been retrofitted with a
modern German stainless steel sliding mechanism that can be used easily by one
person instead of the two or three needed to wrestle the original system
apart. This has added to the cost but
makes for a better table and a longer life.
With its renewed
ability to gather 12 people around it, this dining table has truly turned over
a new leaf.