11436

A FINELY FIGURED MAHOGANY OBELISK-FORM PEDESTAL IN THE MANNER OF SIR JOHN SOANE

English. Circa 1800.

Measurements

Height: 36" (91.4 cm)
Width: 15 5/8 (39.7 cm)
Depth: 14 3/4" (37.5 cm).

Research
Of figured mahogany. The square top above a molded frieze and tapered base with door to one side. The molded plinth applied to each side with shallow relief triangular pediment with acroteria.

The present cabinet is an interesting and informed example of the British regency’s taste for ancient style in nineteenth century architectural designs and decorative schemes. Its truncated obelisk form is an understated evocation of ancient civilization and derived from the large monolithic tapered pillars initially erected by the Egyptians and later widely adopted in Rome. This shape, with slanting sides typically terminates in a pyramidal shape; here, however, a square plateau provides a functional surface, on which a sculpture or ancient artifact probably rested.

This British taste for Egyptian motifs achieved the momentum of a mania following Nelson’s destruction of Napoleon’s fleet at Aboukir Bay in 1798. In the aftermath of Nelson’s victory the use of such motifs became a statement of patriotism and high fashion as well as conveying the impression of learned sophistication and a familiarity with the history of the ancient past.

Full research report available on request.

Full research report available on request.