With Temple Williams Ltd., Haunch of Venison Yard, London, where acquired by Wilfrid Evill (£600) 5 February 1960, until sold Sotheby's, Wilfrid Evill Collection, 12 July 1963, lot 109 and purchased, through an agent, by Honor Frost.
For this extraordinary table we can make a tentative attribution to the celebrated maker Gabriele Capello (1806-1879), also commonly known as Il Moncalvo. He was a cabinet maker whose work was of the highest quality. His marquetry was sophisticated, often whimsical. He often collaborated with Filippo Pelagio Pelagi (1775-1860), a designer, who like Capello, was highly regarded. Pelagi was in charge of the decoration of the Royal Palaces, including Racconigi. His inventive furniture styles were very eclectic and his commissions varied and ranged from the Etruscan to the neo-Gothic.
What is striking about the offered lot and the output of Capello in general are some unifying factors; the clever use of marquetry, the contrast of dark and light woods and above all a revelry in finely carved detailing. See the sumptuously carved winged beasts in the offered lot. We see variations of these riotous entwined mythical creatures and beasts in the designs of Pelagi and in the carving of Capello.
For the same capped border or pediment below the beasts and just above the feet in the offered lot see a suite of furniture, attributed to Capello, Roberto Antonetto, Gabriele Capello, Torino, pl. 183. This illustrated desk has a similar central stretcher configuration. Also see pl. 137, pl. 185, for similar palmettes carved into the stretcher, a motif Capello adored and which he used extensively in inlay.
There was widespread interest in Chinoserie as an exuberant 'new' style at the time of the manufacture of this piece, one only has to look at Nash's Brighton Pavilion (c.1815-1822) in England. This riotous style manifested itself in the work of designers and cabinet makers across Europe. We see it in Italy, notably in Turin where many Palazzo featured an Oriental flourish within a Chinese Room, see the Chinese apartment at Racconigi. It may be that this lot was part of an overall decorative scheme, perhaps for one of those exotic rooms, Capello and Pelagi certainly worked on overall decorative schemes, see The Etruscan Room, from 1827, at the Castello di Racconigi, Turin.
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