• The William F. Reilly Collecti auction at Christies

    Sale 2273

    The William F. Reilly Collection

    14 October 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 40

    A PAIR OF ITALIAN GILTWOOD SIDE TABLES

    ROME, CIRCA 1775, IN THE MANNER OF GIOVANNI BATTISTA PIRANESI

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A PAIR OF ITALIAN GILTWOOD SIDE TABLES
    ROME, CIRCA 1775, IN THE MANNER OF GIOVANNI BATTISTA PIRANESI
    Each with associated porphyry-veneered top and portrait medallion centered frieze carved with bucrania and husk swags, supported by ram's-mask monopodia ending in hoof feet, one with chalk inscription 'PARK ST,' regilt
    34½ in (87.6 cm.) high, 50 in. (127 cm) wide, 26 in. (66 cm.) deep (2)


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    These superb consoles, with classical medallions flanked by festive bucrania garlands and supported by acanthus-wrapped ram's head monopodia, reflect the Roman á l'antique style promoted by the influential architect/designer Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778). Similar monopodia supports combined with a bucrania frieze feature on the celebrated pair of tables supplied to Giovanni Battista Rezzonico, nephew of Pope Clement XIII, for his apartment in the Palazzo Rezzonico, and now in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. These extraordinary tables, one of which is illustrated in Piranesi's Diversi maniere d'adornare i cammini of 1769 (along with other furnishings supplied to Rezzonico's apartment), are the only documented pieces of furniture designed by Piranesi still in existence. A further related design by Piranesi for a table, which features a monopodium support and medallion frieze, is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (see J. Wilton-Ely, Design Through Fantasy: Piranesi as Designer, pp. 70-73, in Piranesi as Designer, exh. cat., New York, 2007).

    Piranesi's archaeological style was enormously influential in Rome in the 1760's and 1770's and a number of tables are recorded displaying similar characteristics, particularly the monopodia supports and medallion frieze, although none of these examples can be directly linked to Piranesi himself.

    These include a table in the Capitoline Museum (illustrated in A. Gonzalez-Palacios, Il Tempio del Gusto: Roma e il Regno delle due Sicilie, Milan, 1984, vol. II, fig. 152); a table in the collection of Leo Veneziani (illustrated in G. Lizzani, Il Mobile Romano, Milan, 1970, p. 85, fig. 138), and a series of tables including a circular example commissioned circa 1788 for Stanislaus August Poniatowski of Poland, illustrated in A. Gonzalez-Palacios, Arredi e Ornamenti alla Corte di Roma, Milan, 2004, pp. 216-221.

    The architect Antonio Asprucci was particularly marked in his admiration of the Piranesian 'antique' style. Asprucci worked extensively for the Borghese family, principally for Prince Don Marcantonio Borghese during his extensive refurbishments of both the Villa and Palazzo Borghese in Rome in the 1770's. A number of tables were supplied to the Palazzo Borghese after designs by Asprucci and carved by Antonio Landucci which display similar features to the Reilly tables. These include a pair of tables now in the Palazzo Quirinale, Rome (illustrated in Piranesi as Designer, op. cit., p. 238), and two pairs of tables with magnificent mosaic tops, sold Christie's, London, 23 June 1999, lot 100, and Christie's, London, 5 July 2001, lot 50.

    Provenance

    Sir Arthur du Cros, 21 Park Street, London, until 1957.
    Michael Behrens, Culham Court, Henley-on-Thames (when with differing, associated alabaster tops).
    The John Hobbs Collection II; Phillips, New York, 22 October 2002, lot 46.