side table belongs to a tradition of virtuosity and highly skilled carving that
spanned more than a century, beginning in the late 18th century, as part of the
revival of interest in Medieval and Renaissance styles. And while we feature several tables labeled "Louis
XIII" for their use of torsades ("barley twists") they are more
in the Country French tradition of massive and sturdy furniture and do not
approach the level of refinement and delicacy of this table.
reading accounts of furniture making of the 19th century, the ability to carve
open torsades or spirals such as the four comprising the legs of this table was
considered the height of professional accomplishment achieved by only a few
artists. A table of similar design,
although dating from the 17th century, was sold at auction in Paris in 1992 for
overall structure, this table can be classified as a "writing desk"
because of its lone drawer, from the era in which people still wrote letters by
hand on fine paper with pen and inkwell.
Thankfully, unlike many 19th century writing desks we have encountered,
there are no tell-tale ink spills on the top or in the drawer.
open torsade of the legs is unusual not only for the difficulty of execution
but also for the grace and weightlessness it conveys by the graceful spirals as
they erupt from the base and then disappear into the top. The legs sit atop a base in the shape of an
"H" but with crescent-moon shapes (echoing the curves of the
torsades), as the outer members rather than perpendicular pieces of wood. Across the top of the uniting horizontal of
the "H" and supporting the central section of the table's top are two
central arches and two-half arches supported by intricately carved
double-torsades - a larger diameter spiral interspersed with a smaller
one. This design for the supporting
structure can be traced directly to the library tables of the late Middle Ages and
early Renaissance periods and a fondness for architectural detail. See, for example, Tables 9210, 9218,
and 9219. With a salute to furniture of the Middle Ages,
the table rests on bun feet, also known as pieds de camembert for
their similarity to the shape of the famous cheeses (and the French tendency to
relate all things to food!).
four sides of the top of the table reflect an affection for the massive yet
detailed mouldings of more architectural pieces, such as armoires, whose crown
mouldings balance that of a broad base and provide a pleasing symmetry. See, for example, Item 1012. That same spirit is embodied in this table
representing a small yet beautifully conceived jewel of 19th century artistry.
central drawer in the top is part of that same moulding and, but for the drawer
pull of bronze in an exceptionally intricate casting, one would not suspect
that a drawer was part of the construction.
table is made of solid walnut with a visible yet subtle grain, leading us to
think that the wood came from the cache of old growth trees available to
artisans in the Burgundy region in the 19th century.