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Work Console table

Department of Decorative Arts: 18th century: rococo

Console table

© 2010 Musée du Louvre / Studio Sébert

Decorative Arts
18th century: rococo

Author(s):
Barbier Muriel

The ornamentation on this console table has a martial theme which was not very common for the period. Although several examples can be found in the Louis XVI style, tables like this in the Louis XV style are exceptional. This is a rare example of a rococo console table. The maker is unknown, but it was possibly created by an artist close to the Crown workshops.

A monumental console table

This table is very high and rests on four curved legs connected by a sturdy stretcher. It has a very thick top of Breche d'Alep cut marble. This sort of furniture was designed for the great galleries of spacious apartments and was used to display small bronzes or decorative vases made of porcelain or mosaic. It retained this function throughout the seventeenth century and into the early eighteenth century, before consoles became more commonplace.

A martial decorative theme

Four helmets with very intricate crests have been carved on the angles of the legs, announcing the warlike theme. The stretcher and its central crossing are covered with martial decorations, amongst which can be seen another helmet with crest; shields; Hercules' club; the mouths of cannons; a suit of armor; and a whole series of objects that were part of a soldier's accoutrements. The four asymmetrical cartouches around the horizontal band, on the other hand, were originally decorated with the arms of France and the royal family which have since disappeared. One can imagine this console table in the great gallery of the apartment of some high-placed army dignitary, or as part of a pleasing décor like the one designed some forty years later, in 1778, for the count of Artois, brother of Louis XVI and Grand Master of the Artillery. Indeed, his room at the château de Bagatelle, built specially for him, resembled a military tent. Unfortunately, the identity of the person who commissioned this console table remains unknown.

A richly carved work of art

The martial theme is embellished by palms, acanthus leaves, and intricately carved flowers. The use of palm-tree flowers was inherited from the Louis XIV style and this, together with the magnificient, asymmetrical cartouche flanked by two carved wings, and indeed all the ornamental carvings, are reminiscent of the style of the woodcarver Nicolas Pineau. All these details are evidence of a talented pattern designer and woodcarver at work, although it is difficult to attribute works of this period to specific artists or craftsmen. Nevertheless, the period around 1730 was a highly active one for the Keepers of the King's Buildings, which had three prominent woodcarvers working for it: Jules Desgoullons, Matthieu Legoupil, and Jacques Verberckt. This fine piece may have been the fruit of their labors or collaboration.

Bibliography

Pons B., De Paris à Versailles, 1669-1736. Les sculpteurs ornemanistes parisiens et l'art décoratif des Bâtiments du Roi, Paris, 1986.

Pallot B.G.B., Le mobilier du musée du Louvre, tome 2, Dijon, Editions Faton, 1993, pp. 50-53.

Technical description

  • Paris (c. 1730)

    Console table

  • Natural oak; Aleppo breccia marble

    H. 0.99 m; W. 2.06 m; D. 1.01 m

  • Assigned from the Hôtel des Invalides, 1904 , 1904

    OA 5976

  • Decorative Arts

    Sully wing
    1st floor
    First cabinet of faience wares
    Room 607

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