9882 A GILTWOOD NEOCLASSICAL CENTER TABLE WITH INSET SCAGLIOLA TOP DEPICTING A FAUX LINE DRAWING OF ST. PETERSBURG Russian. Dated 1805. Measurements: Width: 39″ (97.5cm) Height: 31 1/2″ (80cm) Diameter: 30″ (75.5 cm)
Of giltwood and scagliola. The inset scagliola top depicting a monochromatic view of St. Petersburg with Cyrillic inscription. The border with stylized vases and swags in imitation of porphyry and lapis. The top set within a plain frame with a carved foliate outer edge resting upon a shaped fluted frieze, raised on four paneled tapering legs headed by an acanthine protuberance. The whole resting on foliate carved scroll feet. Mostly re-gilded, some carving to the top edge restored.
London art trade.
This interesting Russian giltwood table is particularly unusual in having an inset scagliola panel inscribed in Cyrillic Sankt Peterburg 1805, and bearing the imperial Russian eagle. Clearly derived from an engraving, the image shows St. Petersburg. The central image is surrounded by a restrained composition of vases and pearl swags interspersed with rhomboids and roundels of faux lapis and porphyry.
While scagliola is often associated with Italian manufacture and more exuberant subject matter, the present top has a decidedly cool Russian flavor.
St. Petersburg during the late 18th and early 19th century was a magnet for Italian artists, artisans and architects, and it is possible that the top was a commission by an Italian scagliola artist working in Russia, as very few works in this medium are known to exist in these far northern cities. The giltwood base is also unusual, with its weighty appearance and shaped fluted apron.
A possible author of its design could be another Italian, Giacomo Quarenghi, once described by Christopher Marsden as “one of the last great architects of Italy.” He had a long and celebrated career in Russia, having been invited by Catherine the Great in 1779, until his death in 1817. He was responsible for the design of many of St. Petersburg’s iconic structures such as the Alexander Palace and Smolny Institute. It is known that he designed many items of furniture, mostly in an inventive Louis XVI tastes, and his sketch books for furniture are housed in the Biblioteca Civica, Bergamo.