This rare pair of tables is a striking example of Pontypool lacquered tôle, one the eighteenth century’s most innovative decorative techniques. A closely comparable table in the collection at Colonial Williamsburg, dated to 1765 and with a rectangular top (figure 1), shares the same hand-punched pierced edging and eared corners of the present pair and is decorated with fruit and flowers in a style and composition closely related to that of these pieces. In addition, both the present pair and the Williamsburg table are raised on a lacquered baluster stem with three cabriole legs with pad feet.
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The rococo style appeared in Italy later than in its neighboring European countries, and was highly influenced by French Louis XV design. In Venice, the republic had faded politically and commercially, however, it “excelled as the capital of taste, fashion and luxury, rivaling the reputation of Paris.” The rooms of the grand palazzi on the canals were outfitted with colorful frescoes, marble floors and sumptuous textiles. The interior architecture, of a sculptural quality, was reflected in the furnishings, which were brightly painted and elaborately carved.
The first known examples of carved depictions of vagabonds and beggars date back to the second half of the 18th century and are specific to Val Gardena, also referred to by its German name, Gröden, a valley in the Dolomite mountain range of northern Italy. This town was well known for it’s cottage industry of wooden carving in which toys, utility articles and sculpture were made since the 17th century, and the present set of figures are most likely attributable to this region.
These candelabra, which take the very interesting and uncommon form of human skeletons, belong to the genre in art specifically devoted to reminding us of our own mortality. “Memento Mori,” from the Latin “Remember you will die,” is a theme found in painting, sculpture and architecture, which reflects upon the transience of life and ephemeral nature of our earthly possessions. The most popular symbols found in these works are skeletons or skulls. Extinguished candles, urns of flowers and timepieces, such as clocks and hourglasses, are also present as reminders of our fleeting existence in this world.
Here is a look at a new acquisition with quite an interesting provenance.
This pair of panels is comprised of early-20th century miniature versions of two of the chinoiserie canvas panels which line the walls of the Banqueting Room at The Royal Pavilion, Brighton. The original panels were designed by Robert Jones and supplied to the Banqueting Room in circa 1817-1821:
We are excited to bring you another discovery we recently made:
We have a large carpet in our collection (measuring 20′ x 15′) decorated with a profusion of stylized foliate tendrils and acanthus leaves, centered by an Islamic-style temple. Carlton’s hunch that it’s design resembled the work of Eugène Viollet le Duc (1814-1879) led us to contact Professor Martin Bressani, the leading authority on Viollet-le-Duc, who commented that the carpet looked to be his work “to the degree that it is hard to imagine anyone else having designed it”, and that the distinctive floral motif, was one of Viollet-le-Duc’s trademarks.
Possibly Brazilian School. First half of the eighteenth century.
Oil on canvas.
Height: 41″ (104 cm); Width: 32 1/2″ (81.5 cm). 9897
The labrum, or basin, was used as a water vessel in ancient Roman bath complexes and gardens. With the construction of aqueducts, water could be carried for miles and its use was no longer restricted to basic necessities, but could now be enjoyed for recreation and decorative purposes. It is apparent from ancient marble specimens and wall frescoes that ornamental fountains were popular additions to the garden landscapes of antiquity.
In mid-16th century Renaissance Italy, the production of panels and tabletops using inlays of semiprecious stone began, with materials and geometric designs deriving from classical Roman motifs.
However, the design of this particular tabletop, which is probably Roman circa 1680, represents a complete departure from this tradition in that it is a pure interpretation in mosaic of ancient marble, possibly Egyptian alabaster or giallo antico. We know of no other comparable example and, as such, believe this top to be probably unique.