Under Napoleonic rule the French influence was very strong in Italy, particularly in the North. The Grand Duke of Tuscany Ferdinand III fled to his German Duchy of W/uurzburg in 1799, following the arrival of the Revolutionary Army in Tuscany. The furnishings in the Ducal palaces were found to be sparse by the new Monarchs Ludovic de Bourbon Parma and his wife Marie Louise. They set about a refurbishing programme of the Palaces that was executed in the Empire taste of Percier and Lafontaine. Upon the restoration and return of Ferdinand III in 1814, the rigid interpretation of the Empire style was gradually replaced with a Tuscan style which relied more on coloured veneers and less ostensive decorations possibly inspired by the furniture brought back from W/uurzburg by Ferdinand.
The cabinet-makers who worked for the Grand Duke mostly also worked for the Lorraine rulers during the Napoleonic rule. Cabinet makers such as Jean Baptiste Youf and Guiseppe Colza started to combine coloured and natural burr veneers with mahogany and sparing ormolu mounts in combination with quality carved gilt-wood ornaments. (see E.Colle Italian Empire Furniture New York, 2001, pp. 128-131 and 146-150)
The present table has all these ingredients - the green stained and natural burr elm veneers, sparing yet high quality bronze mounts, and expressive and beautifully executed gilt carved wood Grecian sphinx supports.
The design of the table on offer is quite unusual and may have been inspired by Austrian furniture made in the first quarter of the 19th Century. Although the Italians were not fond of the Austrians, the Grand Dukes of Tuscany had been Austrian since the mid 18th century. In fact Leopold II succeeded his brother Joseph II as Holy Roman Emperor in 1790.