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HOME : Decorative Arts : Furnishings : Egyptian Revival Giltwood and Faux Porphyry Side Table in the Manner of Nottolini
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Egyptian Revival Giltwood and Faux Porphyry Side Table in the Manner of Nottolini - X.0515
Origin: Tuscany, Italy
Circa: 1820 AD
Dimensions: 41" (104.1cm) high x 64" (162.6cm) wide x 24" (61.0cm) depth
Collection: Decorative
Medium: Giltwood

Additional Information: The frame has been adapted and restored.

Art Logic--Mount Street Galleries, 2004

Location: Great Britain

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The Rouge de Vitrolles top above a concave fluted frieze and lotus-leaf carved cornice, supported to the front by two pairs of Egyptian male term figures and at the back with Porfido rosso antico-painted panels decorated with Egyptian hieroglyphics; the whole raised upon a typical Italian painted faux marble plinth-base; the frame adapted and restored.

The exceedingly rare top of Rouge de Vitrolles (Etruscan Red), an extinct marble favoured by the Romans, of richly mottled reds and mixed yellows, is probably eighteenth century or earlier in origin and would have been chosen both for the spectacular range of colours that it exhibits, as for it's age and rarity - reflecting the ancient source of the design.

The figures, with their nemes head-dresses and conforming loincloths, (derived from the celebrated antique sculpture of the Emperor Hadrian's favourite companion Antinous which had been rediscovered at his villa in 1740), are intriguingly paired off, striding forward, their arms linked.

The Egyptian Revival, although anticipated by Gianbattista Piranesi in his Egyptian decorative scheme for the 'Caffe degli Inglesi' published in his Diversi Manieri di Ornare i Cammini of 1769, reached its zenith in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, due to the publication in 1802 of Voyage dans la Basse et la Haute Egypte by Baron Dominique Vivant-Denon. This series of engravings, promoted by Napoleon to glorify his campaign in Egypt, started a fashion known as Retour d'Egypte which spread rapidly throughout Europe.

This console or side table is apparently unique, although the scale and type would indicate that there was once a pair to this example – now seemingly lost. Several related examples are known, however, which include: a pair made around 1820 for the Palazzo Ducale in Lucca, now located in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, for which the design by the celebrated Lucchese architect, Lorenzo Nottolini (1787-1851), survives in the State Archive in Lucca; one in carved white marble and one giltwood, both also in the Palazzo Pitti; and another with bronze detailing on a mahogany frame, also attributed to Nottolini, in the Villa Medicea di Poggio a Caiano.

A further comparison may be made with a chair in the collection of the Villa della Petraia in Florence, which has the same concave and vertically fluted frieze to the cresting rail (seemingly a leitmotif of Nottolini’s) and a conforming seat rail, both decorated with Egyptian motifs. This chair is part of a suite of seat furniture for the Camera della Musica, that was probably supplied by the cabinet-maker Gaetano Cambi, to designs by Nottolini, as part of a refurbishment by Maria Luisa di Borbone in 1820. Intriguingly, this room has a carved marble chimneypiece by Gaspero Bargioni, to designs by Nottolini, decorated with hieroglyphic back-panels in an almost identical manner to this console. - (X.0515)


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