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.