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Neoclassical Florence

Last quarter 18th century

Round marble table with sample of 120 marbles and hard stones to which are added the 4 marbles used for the decorative parts.

In the center there is a Belgian Black round that frames a micro-mosaic representing Plinio’s Doves, subject taken from Pompeian excavations; tank to a complex geometric system of ellipse, from this circle starts a series of lozonges that create 120 spaces for different marbles and hard stones; everything is marked with Belgian Black threads, while white striped alabaster is used to close the spaces left by the ellipses before the edging, realized with a greek made of red, orange and green marbles.

Stone Sample Table

The counter-top is supported by a white marble column, turned and carved with marble leaves on the base, standing on a marble plinth.

Dimensions: 90 x 52,5 cm

Inspect the table

Historical stylistic analysis

The stone production of counter-tops for tables has is production center at the hard stone factory of Florence but already from the previous centuries we know about active workshops in Rome.

Since the mid-18th century, along with the fading of the Medicean ages, several Florentine employees moved to Rome and Naples, looking for new markets and employments, reinforcing the employees already present in the papal city.
At the end of the 18th century, along with revival of classical taste, driven by the findings in Pompeii and herculaneum’s excavation; objects and furniture that look at that world became popular, copying it, reinventing it and making their own ideas and decorative motifs.

The success of Grand tour brings to Italy researchers and aristocratics from all over Europe that provided to workshops a new willing to spend clientele.

In Rome some stone workshops and specialized bronzes started to provide products suitable to the wishes of this customers. For the visitor that had just finished the tour of Roman excavations and ruins, getting hold of a table, on which is represented a sample of marbles, satisfies the desire of culture and beauty research, making the buyer a perfect fashionable Illuminist.

Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein - Goethe in the Roman countryside during his Gran Tour

The sketch of the counters of these table finds inspiration in the mosaics of Roman palaces that are coming out from the excavations; also the themes of the micro-mosaics placed in the center of most of the tables come from Pompeian painting; we must add that on small tables sometimes the counter-top is entirely made with micro-mosaic.

Mosaic Roman palaces
Mosaic Roman palaces
Mosaic Roman palaces
Marbles were taken from open mines but mostly were taken from excavation stones as columns and others ruins that were reused, in this case they were ancient marbles coming from close mines, so rare types;

this allowed to have a wide sample of debris, diaspores and marbles available coming form different parts of the world; most of the times at the end hard stones, lapis lazuli, malachite, agate and porphyry were insered. The skill of the craftsman lay in wisely composing various samples in order to reach a better and harmonious result.

Two are the workshops in Rome that make counters like this one to which we attribute the making of this table.

The factory in Babuino st. of Raffaelli Giacomo and his son Vincenzo and the one of Alfonso Cavamelli.
Is hard also for the expert distinguish today one or the other production since counters shows characteristics that from time to time we find in one or the other factory.
The only option that we have is to find several affinities with the table of which we know the belonging because of they’re in the purchase inventories or because they’re signed.

Table Opificio Raffaelli

The table of the Raffaelli factory, purchased by Daniel Pettiward in 1829, ( today preserved in the Fitzwilliam Museum of Cambridge) has a counter with the same geometric sketch of the one in question except for framed lock of the counter.

The interest of study and the attention to the natural sciences is proved by the fact that the table was sold with a catalogue that describes item by item all the used marbles.

A gorgeous table auctioned in London by Christie’s in 2007 is signed “Alfonso Cavemelli made year 1832 Rome”.

This table has a different geometric sketch of the sample, but the greek on the edge made with sequential diamonds is very similar to the on of the table in question. In this case the base that supports the counter is British and made at the end of the 19th century; since the object imported from Rome was the counter, the base, as support, was less important.

Table “Alfonso Cavamelli 1832 Roma”

Along with today’s studies allow to say, we could affirm with confidence that the authorship of the table is attributed to one of the two mentioned roman workshops, to be ascribed between 1832 and 1850; instead is hard to say if the base was made in the same years or later.

Bibliography:

Alvar Gonzalez-Palacios,Il Tempio del Gusto, ed. Longanesi 1984
Alvar Gonzalez-Palacios,Pittura per l’eternità, ed. Longanesi 2001

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