• A Marriage of Collections: The auction at Christies

    Sale 2398

    A Marriage of Collections: The Property of Dr. Julius and Dena K. Tarshis

    21 April 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 32

    A RUSSIAN ORMOLU-MOUNTED TULIPWOOD, KINGWOOD, SYCAMORE AND MARQUETRY GAMES TABLE

    LATE 18TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    A RUSSIAN ORMOLU-MOUNTED TULIPWOOD, KINGWOOD, SYCAMORE AND MARQUETRY GAMES TABLE
    LATE 18TH CENTURY
    The top inlaid with a view of a building within an oval amid diamond parquetry, the foldover top opening to a later green leather-lined playing surface within a vine-inlaid surround with dished playing reserves, the reverse with a later drawer, the frieze inlaid with swags, on tapering square legs, restorations to marquetry
    29 in. (74 cm.) high; 53 in. (134.5 cm.) wide; 26½ in. (67.5 cm.) deep


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    While much of 18th century Russian furniture was inspired by French and German designs, Russian craftsmen were clearly looking to England when making this games table. English pattern books -- and even fine pieces of English furniture-- were available to St. Petersburg cabinetmakers in Russia at the time (Catherine the Great ordered commodes from John Linnell for Tsarskoe Selo in 1780, illustrated in H. Hayward and P. Kirkham, William and John Linnell, London, 1980, vol. I, col. pl. 9 and vol. II, fig. 119).

    This table also exemplifies the flourishing popularity of marquetry furniture in 18th century Russia, particularly in St. Petersburg. While Danish-born Christian Meyer became the most well-known practitioner of the technique, native-born craftsmen such as Nikifor Vasilyev also created skillfully signed marquetry pieces. On the present table, the oval reserve with an architectural view against a ground of cube parquetry relates to Vasilyev's use of similar panoramas, seen for example on a signed kidney-shaped table at the Historical Museum Moscow (illustrated in The Art of Marquetry in Eighteenth Century Russia, Sovietskaya Rossia Publishers, Moscow, 1989, p. 90, pl. 91-92). An unsigned St. Petersburg example in the Ostankinko State Museum shares with the present table the undulating ribbon surround (ibid, p. 109, pl. 125).