9478 AN UNUSUAL PAIR OF GILTWOOD AND BLUE PAINTED NEOCLASSICAL CONSOLE TABLES Probably Vienna. Early Nineteenth Century. Measurements: Height: 36 3/4″ (93.5 cm) Width: 21 1/4″ (54 cm) Depth: 10 1/4″ (26 cm)
Of giltwood and restored light blue painted decoration. Each with a rectangular marble top, molded to the edge, with shaped undermold above a paneled frieze with stylized foliate decoration, supported on scrolling acanthine brackets held by a female figure in flowing robes in front of a blue painted background with gilt border, the whole raised on a marbleized rectangular restored plinth above a band of stylized lotus leaf decoration. Some old restoration. Side mounts replaced.
Bears label to underside of marble tops.
Cunard Line Stateroom Baggage, Dr. William Lieberman, Queen Elizabeth R70, Date of Sailing 29, Juillet.
The present pair of console tables are exquisite and highly inventive examples of Viennese classicism of the early nineteenth-century. The design is composed around the form of delicately executed figures of classical females, clothed in flowing robes of the type found on ancient Greek and Roman sculptures, and illustrated in publications such as Thomas Hope’s Costume of the Ancients (1812). The figures hold foliate curving fronds, which are components of a corinthian capital, and visually support the broad intricately decorated frieze and the marble top above. The figures stand on a plinth edged with lotus leaf decoration, derived from examples in Egyptian art.
The unusual architectural form of the table characterizes this freedom of design practiced by Viennese designers such as Josef Danhauser (1780-1829). In this period the patrons and master craftsmen of Vienna strikingly rejected the rigid formality of the French Empire style that had become so closely associated with the grandiose ambitions of the Emperor Napoleon. They avoided the emphatic forms of much French furniture, heavily decorated with gilt bronze mounts, and instead reinterpreted the concepts and decorative elements of neoclassicism to produce pieces of lighter and more imaginative form.
These characteristics were often enhanced by the materials used by Viennese craftsmen, with giltwood often being preferred to gilt bronze. This lent the designs a softer, more sculptured appearance than was found in French pieces, a delicacy of effect that was often enhanced by combinations of subtle coloration. For example in the present tables the giltwood of the decorative elements is set off against a subtle pale blue ground.
Among the most celebrated Viennese residences in which furniture of this form can be found, is the grand palatial residence of Schloss Wetzdorf, laid out by the eccentric Josef Gottfried Pargfrieder between 1833 and 1841.
The furniture and interiors of that commission exemplify this phase of Viennese design. The pieces were delicately conceived, executed in giltwood and with neoclassical forms and decoration combined in designs of considerable invention. Many of these pieces of furniture combined giltwood decoration set against a subtle pale blue or mauve ground, giving the furniture a feeling of ethereal lightness in much the same manner as that found in the present tables. It is interesting to note that a sofa from the Wetzdorf suite bears an apparently original inscription that reads JUPITIS FECIT, which perhaps gives an insight into the high ideals of the designers of such pieces and the effect they strove to create.