The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Console table
  • Console table
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Rome and Florence, Italy
  • c. 1700 - c. 1720
  • Carved and gilt pinewood, stone top veneered with different marbles and alabasters, including an outer border of Portor marble
  • Object size: 107.3 x 185.4 x 80 cm
  • Inscription: '16' In black oil paint. Part of the pre-1956 museum number, II 16.
  • F512
  • West Gallery I
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This console table, with its elaborate base and colourful top, was probably made in Tome, c. 1700 – 1720. It is typical of the kind of Italian furniture acquired by gentlemen to furnish their houses in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain. Made of carved and gilded pinewood, the table base represents three infants linked by garlands of foliage and berries. Such animated figures, two of which stand on the rocky terrain as if to support the table top, often feature on baroque style Italian tables, which were made to be positioned against a wall in a large room or hall. The top is of stone, skilfully veneered with different marbles and alabasters in decorative patterns. The marbles probably came from excavations in Rome and the three landscapes are characteristic of Florentine workmanship.

    The table was once in the collection of Richard Grenville (1797 – 1861), who inherited Stowe House as Second Duke of Buckingham and Chandos in 1839. A watercolour of the State Drawing Room (now the Temple Room) executed by Joseph Nash in 1864 shows the table situated in an apse at the north end of the room. The watercolour is one of a series of commissioned by Queen Victoria after her three-day stay as the house earlier that year. She is said to have commented that the room, immediately west of the Marble Saloon, at the centre of the house, was ‘one of the most perfect interiors ever witnessed’. Other pieces of Italian furniture shown in the watercolour include a set of chairs carved with the figures of infants. Two of the chairs are now also in the Wallace Collection.

    Although he was already in debt owing to the extravagance of his father, the Second Duke of Buckingham and Chandos spent vast sums preparing for the Queen’s visit to Stowe House and in August 1848 was forced to sell the contents of the house. The catalogue for the sale records that the Italian furniture in the State Drawing Room had been imported en bloc in the 1830s by an entrepreneurial Milanese dealer, Gasparoni, who had ‘chartered a vessel expressly to convey [it] to England’. The firm of Town & Emanuel bought the whole shipment and sold several pieces to the Duke of Buckingham. The table and two chairs were purchased by the dealer Redfern on the fifth day of the Stowe sale for the 4th Marquess of Hertford.