11717

A SPECIMEN LUMACHELLA ORIENTALE TABLE TOP RAISED ON AN UNUSUAL GEORGE III NEOCLASSICAL BASE

Width: 62" (157.5 cm); Height: 37" (94 cm); Depth: 31" (79 cm)

Measurements

Research
Of painted wood and composition, with lumachella orientale top. The regtangular lumachella orientale slab set within a plain gilt bronze molding, above a carved frieze of alternating reeded and guilloche panels. The whole raised on eight reeded legs paired to the front and back, each leg surmounted by floral paterae and united at the top by X-form “ties,” terminated in tapering feet.

The marble top to the present table is of geological significance, made from lumachella. Derived from the Italian word for “snail” (lumaca), these “shelly marbles” are largely composed of petrified marine fossil shells whose forms remain relatively intact. According to Faustino Corsi’s Reasoned catalogue of a collection of decorative stones formed and possessed in Rome (1825), “such marbles generally have a compact texture and take a very beautiful polish.” The specimen used for the present table is a variety called Lumachella Orientale (also called Lumachella d’Egitto), characterized by its blue and grey oyster fragments.

This top was almost without doubt the purchase of an English, likely aristocratic, patron of the late eighteenth or very early nineteenth century. We can be confident of this because the base was clearly made for the top upon its arrival in England. In the design of the present base, we witness a beautifully restrained and appropriate support for this precious Roman top. It is most unusual in that its surface is predominantly an exercise in reeded decoration, alleviated only by two panels to the frieze containing applied guilloche and small paterae within square panels atop each leg.

Full research report available on request.

Full research report available on request.