9693 AN UNUSUAL PAIR OF X-FORM GILTWOOD SIDE OR CENTER TABLES IN THE MANNER OF GEORGE SIMS English. Circa 1870. Measurements: Height: 33 3/4″ (86 cm) Width: 35 1/4″ (89.5 cm) Depth: 18″ (46 cm)
Of gilded beech. The inset white marble top with ‘D’ molded edge set within a carved gadrooned border. The fluted frieze with carved acanthus leaves centering the front and corners. The complex x-form supports carved with classical stiff leaf decoration with voluted top scrolls opposed by Greek key feet. The halves of the X united by spirally turned circular tapering supports. The conforming backs joined horizontally by carved turned stretches. The whole rests on four oblong carved gadrooned feet. Probably originally with optional metal jardiniere liners.
Private collection, Montevideo, Uruguay
The present pair of tables is executed in the manner of English cabinetmaker George Sims of 50-152 Aldersgate Street, London. Clearly inspired by the neoclassical taste of the previous century, Sims lent his pieces an inventive edge with updated versions of 18th century ornament.
A light, neoclassical sub-fashion was in existence during the second half of the 19th century. This trend was likely an upper class reaction to the ponderous heavily carved “Rococo” efforts that were the mainstream of furniture production at the time. This sub-fashion persisted past the reign of Queen Victoria and became a component of what was to be referred to as “Edwardian Elegance,” with cabinet-making firms such as Edwards and Roberts and Shoolbred and Co. contributing pieces of remarkable quality and refinement in a reinvented Adam style.
Sims’ business was listed in The ‘Handbook’ to the manufacturers & exporters of Great Britain (1870) as a “Manufacturer of chimney, toilet, pier and console glasses, gilt window cornices and every article in gilt decorations; cabinet furniture of every description and suitable for all climates.”1 He also produced various design books for furniture. The Cabinetmaker and Art Furnisher, Volume 1 (1880) praised Sims for his design publications in the furniture trade, noting that “the excellence of these productions in point of style and ‘get up’ is well known” and that “carefully watching the tendencies of fashionable taste, Mr. Sims perceived the coming rage for Adams, Sheraton, Chippendale, &c.”2
In addition to his Aldersgate shop and published designs, Sims’ furnishings were available for view in public exhibitions. In 1881 Sims participated in the ‘Furniture Trades Exhibition’ in London, and the contemporary journal The Architect, described his display thusly: “…we will note the charming exhibition of Mr. GEORGE SIMS, of Aldersgate Street and Manchester. There were over-mantels in ebonised, walnut, mahogany, oak, and rosewood, in Old English, Anglo-Japanesque, Eighteenth Century, Sheraton, and Chippendale. Art mirrors, and various suites in varying styles, rounded this notable gathering.”3
The present tables adopt several neoclassical design elements interpreted in a more stylized, angular form. These include the gadrooned border surrounding the marble tops, the fluted frieze with carved acanthus leaves, and the complex x-form supports carved with classical stiff leaf decoration with voluted top scrolls and Greek key feet.
- George Taylor Wright. The ‘Handbook’ to the manufacturers & exporters of Great Britain, ed. by G.T. Wright [afterw.] Wright’s improved handbook of the principal manufacturers, exporters, agents, merchants and warehousemen of Great Britain, 1870. 304.
- J. Williams Benn, ed. The Cabinetmaker and Art Furnisher, Volume 1, p.139.
- The Architect: A Weekly Illustrated Journal of Art, Civil Engineering and Building. London: Gilbert Wood & Co., ltd. 1881.