The white marble table top, richly mosaiced and polychromed in rare marbles and semi-precious stones, is a masterpiece from the Rome workshops established by Alfonso Cavamelli in the second quarter of the 19th century.
Cavamelli himself commented about a related table 'When the beauty of the general design, harmonious arrangement of the whole, skilful blending of the general colours, and the extraordinary beauty and variety of the various marbles, here brought together are clearly appreciated, this table will greatly interest all who possess refined taste, and know how to value precious objects'. The latter, executed in the 1840s, was inspired by a Roman mosaiced pavement that had been discovered in the 18th Century in the Palatine's 'Palace of the Caesars'. Its marbles were described in 1850 with the assistance of Fausterio Corsi's, Delle pietre antiche, Rome, 1845, and it was noted that '...The centre is composed of various semi-precious stones. It is formed by the artist [Cavamelli] in imitation of Quartz Brescia, or Puddingstone. Amongst them are specimens of Rare Jaspers, Agates, Sardonix, Lapiz Lazuli, Malachite, Topazes, Avventurina etc. etc.' (A. Coleridge, A Nineteenth-Century Roman Mosaic Table-top, Connoisseur, June, 1967, p.449).
The present table displays a medallion of green malachite and comprises an imbricated dolphin-scaled flower that is wreathed by an 'Etruscan' black border with lozenge-fretted ribbon. The latter border also features on a related table, with 'Medusa-head' medallion recalling ancient virtue, that can be attributed to the Cavamelli workshops (sold Christie's New York, 22 May 2002, lot 364). This 'Medusa' table was once at the Château de Groussay, and formed part of the celebrated collection of Charles de Bestegui that made such an impression upon Jean-Charles de Ravenel when he was a young boy. It has been recorded that, 'aged seven, he was dazzled by his visit to the magical Château de Groussay of Carlos de Bestegui, in particular by its grand tour atmosphere' (see Christiane de Nicolay-Mazery, The Finest Houses of Paris, New York, 2000, p.94).