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    Sale 7816

    Le Grand Goût - A Private European Collection

    17 June 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 134

    A VENETIAN GILT, COLOURED, AVENTURINE AND CHALCEDONY GLASS-INLAID BLACK MARBLE AND GILTWOOD CENTRE TABLE

    SECOND HALF 19TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    A VENETIAN GILT, COLOURED, AVENTURINE AND CHALCEDONY GLASS-INLAID BLACK MARBLE AND GILTWOOD CENTRE TABLE
    SECOND HALF 19TH CENTURY
    The round-ended rectangular marble top inlaid in imitation of lapis lazuli, malachite and other hardstones with a geometric Moorish design of strapwork, stars and reserves of foliate arabesques, the base carved with strapwork and foliage and inset with stars, the support modelled with a central sphere with allegorical figures set within niches, supported below by four kneeling slaves, on tapering legs and pierced feet
    30¼ in. (76.5 cm.) high; 47¼ in. (120 cm.) wide; 30 in. (76.2 cm.) deep


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    The present table-top is a fine example of the glass mosaic art which was revived in Venice during the second half of the 19th century. In 1856, having already invented a new process for the manufacture of gold and silver smalti, Lorenzo Radi (d. 1874), a Venetian glass technician, rediscovered the lost process needed to recreate calcedonio (chalcedony) glass, imitating striated agate. Three years later, Antonio Salviati (d. 1890), a wealthy lawyer appalled by the dire condition of the lagoon city's principal buildings, in particular the antique mosaic decoration of the Basilica di San Marco, established a company dedicated to the production and restoration of mosaics. In collaboration with Radi, what began as the manufacture of smalti and of large scale mosaics for churches and public buildings, rapidly became a commercially successful enterprise producing all manner of decorative objects in blown glass or mosaic. The firm's wares were shown at the influential London International Exhibition held in 1862, and among the highlights of their exhibit was a carved table featuring a mosaic top not dissimilar to the present fine example in its geometric Moorish design and inclusion of chalcedony glass and gold smalti (see J. Meyer, Great Exhibitions, 1851-1900, Woodbridge, 2006, p. 144).

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