Pair of Italian Giltwood Consoles

Circa 1795
Reference #: EF1392

Original marble tops of giallo di siena, cottanello and black.

PROVENANCE: Private Collection, Rome.

SIMILAR EXAMPLE: G. Morazzoni, Il Mobile Neoclassical Italiano, Milan, 1955

Height: 36 ½ inches (93 cm)
Width: 57 inches (144 cm)
Depth: 28 ¼ inches (71.5 cm)

Egyptian inspired pair of giltwood consoles with a wide apron featuring a central head of Medusa enframed by a plain band with alternating lotus and papyrus motifs, the corners with foliate decoration, resting on four square, frontally carved and tapering legs crested by an Egyptian head, fluted legs terminating in paw feet. (one with bottom locks of Medusa and one motif on apron restored; minor touch-ups to gilding)

This unusual and large pair of consoles is superbly designed and achieves a rare balance between the elegance of the structure and the luxuriousness of the material of the marble tops. The elaborate motifs with their Egyptian Revival taste are inspired by the work of Giovanni Battista Piranesi in Rome and the monumental book published in Rome in 1769, “Diverse Maniere d’Adornare i Cammini”, especially the preface titled, “Discorso Apologetico in Favoal della Architettura Egizia e Toscana.” A similar console is depicted in a protrait of the Marchesa Margherita Gentili Boccapiduli painted by Laurent Pecheux in 1777, now in a private collection in Rome. This console is considered by scholars to be the earliest recorded Italian expression of Egyptian revival furniture. Palazzo Boccapiduli is also famous for once housing Poussin’s series of paintings of the seven sacraments currently in Edinburgh. Piranesi engraved these paintings and dedicated one to the Marchesa. It is also known that Piransei advised the Marchesa on the redecoration of her home. Alvar Gonzales-Palacios has analyzed the Pecheux painting and has speculated that the console was executed on the basis of a design by Piranesi himself.
All the elements used were known decorative motifs as many Egyptian reliefs and sculptures were in the ruins of the Villa Adriana in Tivoli. This Egyptian “mania” that started in Rome was to last for a long period of time culminating in the work of the Sienese cabinetmaker, Agositino Fantastrici, who in 1830 designed a large suite of Egyptian style furniture for the country house of Mario Bianchi Bandinelli. A pair of consoles with similar vocabulary, namely the heads, palmettes, and lotus blossoms, was exhibited at Colnaghi’s in London in 1983. In addition, another closely related console was sold at Semenzato in Venice on September 30. 1984, Lot 133. A further example is the octagonal center table in the collection of Princess Henrietta Barberini in Rome. In addition there is a console dated 1780 in the Villa Borghese after designs by Asprucci using an identical band of lotus and papyrus motifs, and using identical decoration on the legs. It is similar to the present pair of consoles both in its excellent carving and gilding as well as its design elements. It is possible to speculate that the above cited examples as well as our pair were the product of the same workshop in Rome.

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