9303 AN UNUSUAL PAIR OF WHITE AND FAUX PAINTED OCCASIONAL TABLES Spanish. Circa 1930. Measurements: Height: 29 1/2″ (75cm) Diameter: 24 1/2″ (62cm)
Of painted deal. Each with a circular top painted with faux tableware and edged with painted Moorish decoration, the whole raised on three shaped scrolling legs united by a triform shaped stretcher.
The present pair of occasional tables were constructed in the early 20th century, although they have been designed to simulate Spanish models from centuries earlier. The shaped legs take the form of Spanish Baroque trestle legs of the type that were found on benches and tables being made in Catalonia in the 17th century. Figure 1 depicts two drawings of comparable trestle legs found on a bench in a private Spanish collection and another from the Valencia Don Juan Institute in Madrid. The legs, as well as the edge of the tabletop, is embellished with gold and turquoise painted arabesque designs.
The table tops are painted with illusionistically rendered plates using trompe l’oeil effects, giving the viewer the impression that there are actual dishes sitting upon the tables. The plates simulate 15th or 16th century hispano-moresque pottery, made in the province of Valencia. Valencia had been inhabited by the Moors since 8th century, and by the 1200s the coastal province was also home home to Catalans, Aragonese. The decoration of the dishes is of archetypal hispano-moresque design: “Small ivy or briony leaves, in blue or in lustre, arranged in circles, bands, arabesques, covering the entire surface of the piece…In the centres of dishes are shields of arms, animals, flowers, and other designs.”1
A European gothic influence is also apparent “in the more naturalistically rendered ornament, the use of heraldic devices and shields, and inscriptions of a Christian nature rendered in Gothic script.”2 One dish is centered by the arms of Aragon: the crown above a shield of four red paletts on gold ground. Alternating crowns and blue vines surround the rim of the plate. An hispano-moresque faience dish in the British museum, circa 1580, features the arms of Aragon at it’s center (along with those of Castile and Leon)(figure 2a).
Another is centered by a floral and hexagram motif, is edged with the inscription Senta Catalina Guarda Nos (“Saint Catherine protect us”) in gothic lettering. This phrase appears on the rim of various dishes from the region and period, including a late 15th century example, also in the British Museum (figure 2b). The cult of St. Catherine gained great importance in the Catalan-Aragonese lands during the 14th and 15th centuries, with numerous churches, altars and convents dedicated to her, including the first Dominican convent in Catalonia.
1. Prime, William Cowper. Pottery and Porcelain of All Times and Nations, with Tables of Factory and Artists’ Marks for the Use of Collectors, by William C. Prime. New York: Harper, 1878. 134.
2. Cooper, Emmanuel. Ten Thousand Years of Pottery. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000. 118.