French, c. 1735
Gilt wood, marble
26 1/2 x 58 3/4 x 1 3/4 in. (67.3 x 149.2 x 4.4 cm)
Location: West Vestibule
This resplendent console table juxtaposes architectural forms with the undulating motifs of the French Rococo. Two legs and a sculpted base support a polychrome marble surface, and elaborate carving — sweeping curves and counter-curves, dramatic asymmetrical turns — decorates the frame. On the frieze, leaves and vines intertwine in serpentine c-scrolls. The conjoining stretcher is a shell wrapped in vines, topped with a single right wing. A second console table with a matching wing may have been placed to the left of this piece.
In the eighteenth century, console tables were an integral part of a lavish decorative interior. They were often commissioned in multiples and designed to complement a room’s carved wall panels and furnishings. Affixed to walls between windows or below mirrors, they had the effect of extending the surface of the wall itself. Decorative objects such as gilt-bronze vases, Chinese porcelain, candelabras, and sculptures were placed on their surfaces. Console tables were typically assembled by furniture joiners, but the advanced craftsmanship of this example suggests it was principally completed by a talented carver.