Table

Maker: Attributed to Pierre Gole (ca. 1620–1684)

Date: ca. 1660

Culture: French, Paris

Medium: Oak and fruitwood veneered with tortoiseshell, stained and natural ivory, ebony, and other woods; gilt bronze

Dimensions: 30 7/8 x 41 1/8 x 27 in. (78.4 x 104.6 x 68.6 cm)

Classification: Woodwork-Furniture

Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, 1986

Accession Number: 1986.38.1

Description

Little is known of this table’s history, and one can only wonder if the exquisite piece was among the many commissions that Pierre Gole, cabinetmaker to Louis XIV, received from the Crown. He is known to have supplied more than a hundred tables, often with a pair of matching candlestands, to the king and the court. Born in Bergen, the Netherlands, Gole was active in Paris during most of his working life. During the mid-1650s he began to specialize in a new and colorful type of veneer known as marquetry. For this decoration, Gole made extensive use of costly and exotic materials such as ebony, tortoiseshell, and ivory from such faraway places as Madagascar, the Indian Ocean, and Guinea. Supported on slender columnar legs, the rectangular top of this table is divided by bands of marquetry into different compartments somewhat resembling pietra dura (hardstone) mosaic works, which may have been its inspiration (see detail right). Inscribed in a four-lobed cartouche, a bouquet of flowers tied with a ribbon occupies the center. Intensifying the vivid color scheme and heightening the sense of naturalism, green-stained ivory was selected for the leaves of the flowers.

During the nineteenth century the table was part of the collections at Mentmore Towers, Buckinghamshire, England. Built for Baron Mayer Amschel de Rothschild (1818–1874), this stately Renaissance-style residence was richly furnished with French art. Elizabeth Rigby, later Lady Eastlake (1809–1893), described the house in 1872 as "a museum of everything, and not least of furniture, which is all in marquety, or pietra dura, or vermeille. I don’t believe the Medici were so lodged in the height of their glory."

[Daniëlle Kisluk-Grosheide, 2010]

[1] Eastlake 1895, vol. 2, p. 224.

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