11531 AN ELEGANT ARCHITECTURAL WALNUT CENTER OR DINING TABLE WITH ‘SWEDISH GREEN’ MARBLE TOP IN THE MANNER OF SIR EDWIN LUTYENS English. Early 20th Century. Measurements: Width: 78″ (198.2 cm) Height: 29″ (73.6 cm) Depth: 30″ (76.2 cm).
Of walnut. The rectangular ‘Swedish Green’ inset marble top rests within bead molded edge above a plain frieze. The octagonal columnar Doric order legs rest upon stepped block plinths united by a molded stretcher with C-shaped ends.
The present table is crafted in the manner of the great English architect Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens (1869-1944), who “designed furniture styles to suit his architectural commissions,” his early work being largely Arts and Crafts in character.1
Sir Edwin Lutyens was born into a large family of London and Surrey, the tenth of thirteen children of the soldier and painter Charles Lutyens, and his wife, Mary. Edwin gravitated toward, and excelled at, drawing and mathematics. It became clear that he should pursue a career in architecture and in 1885 he enrolled at the Kensington School of Art. After only two years, however, Lutyens felt he had no more to learn there and moved on to the office of Earnest George and Peto where he was an apprentice. This position was short-lived as well and he began his own architectural practice in 1888. He often collaborated with the celebrated garden designer Gertrude Jeckyll, and designed her house, Munstead Wood. This was the beginning of “an astonishingly fertile variety of country house designs. His houses deliberately evoked past historical styles, typically combining classical elements with the vernacular, [while hinting] at the shapes of modernism.”2 In the early years of the twentieth century he became increasingly interested in Classicism, as well as geometric interplay. This manifested in his role as the primary architect of New Delhi, the new British capital city in India. This huge undertaking lasted some twenty years and included not only buildings like the Viceroy’s House, but the furniture they contained.
The eclecticism of Lutyens’ architecture extended to his furniture, with an equally broad range of production. His pieces were architectural in their own right, reflecting the design of the buildings in which they stood, while maintaining “their own innate integrity.”3 Ultimately, however, he “had a particular fondness for simplicity in design and hatred of meaningless elaboration.”4 According to his wife, Emily, he felt “the most beautiful things are always the simplest.”5
This reliance on architectural forms, pure lines and simple geometry is expressed in the present table. It is closely related in form to a suite of tables in the dining room at Marshcourt Hall (figure 1), which was designed and built by Lutyens between 1901 and 1905 for Herbert “Johnnie” Johnson, a trader on the London Stock Exchange. Like the present piece, these tables rest on columnar supports connected by a stretcher with C-shaped ends.
- Andrews, John. Arts and Crafts Furniture. Woodbridge: Antique Collectors’ Club, 2005. 213.
- Ridley, Jane. “Architect For The Metropolis.” City Journal, Spring 1998. https://www.city-journal.org/html/architect-metropolis-11736.html
- Wilhide, Elizabeth. Sir Edwin Lutyens: Designing in the English Tradition. London: National Trust, 2012. 166
- Ibid., 158.
- Ibid., 160.