This large and detailed gothic dining table came to us when we purchased part of an estate in Bordeaux, France. Included were six chairs, a magnificent buffet, a chandelier, a fireplace and this table. Its top has had a clarifying treatment to uncloud the finish and reveal the grain and color of the walnut, and is now extraordinary. As so often happens, the leaves used to extend the table had been lost along the way. To give this table a new life, our master woodcarver has created two leaves to match the original table top so that the extend length is almost 9 feet to comfortably accommodate 12 people.
In order to make the insertion of the leaves and 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. Detailed photos of this mechanism are shown below.
The top is supported by four large and thick, smooth columns with carved foliage near the top. The column tops are almost invisible without extra effort such as bending down and looking underneath the table. The columns are connected to angled side stretchers that join a central one. Rising from this central stretcher is a panel of Gothic arches within arches, resembling the designs seen in Gothic cathedral and one of the most distinctive elements of the Gothic style. Just above this fenestrage is one of the other classic Gothic elements, a small linenfold panel.
While dinners in France still involve extended tables covered with a cloth -- the reason why leaves were rarely of the same beautiful walnut as the rest of the table top -- modern American dining rooms require large tables with extended tops whose leaves match. In this case the rich patina of the old growth walnut carries over to the leaves and the result is a magnificent top that should never be hidden!
In one of those rare moments in this business, the original creator's paper tags are still attached to the underside of the center stretcher. The ébénistes (wood craftsmen) were Meubles Robert in Nantes in Brittany. They also made the other pieces for their client in Bordeaux, including chairs, a fireplace, a lighting fixture, and a buffet cabinet. We estimate that the pieces were probably made around 1890.
As with all of our offerings, this magnificent table is perfectly suited to include in a country house, castle or chateaux, as its Gothic style is a perfect complement to Renaissance, Louis XIII styles and Louis XIV chairs, so often found in these luxurious spaces.
Please excuse the sunlight and shadows in some of the photographs. The table is so large that to photograph it with its leaves in place we had to move it out of the photo studio.
Boccador, Jacqueline, Le Mobilier Français du Moyen Age à la Renaissance, Editions d'Art Monelle Hayot (Saint-Just-en-Chaussée, 1988); Thirion, Jacques, Le Mobilier du Moyen Age et de la Renaissance en France (Editions Faton, Dijon, 1998); Viollet-le-Duc, Eugène, Le Mobilier Médiéval (Georges Bernage, editor) (Editions Heimdal, 2003)
With its newly crafted leaves and ease of placement and extension, this table affords the opportunity for years of family gatherings and meals with friends as the focus for dining and enjoyment.