The iconography of the present striking table, characterized by the eagle-headed swords, quivers, helmets, shields, head of Medusa, Hercules’ clave and scimitars and Apollo’s bow, lends a powerful symbol of war and victory to the piece. Additionally, this table is an important example of the type of exceptional furniture produced in the early 19th century in Milan. The overall design and decorative features derive from drawings and engravings executed in the 18th and 19th century by Northern Italian craftsmen who were clearly influenced by the classical revival of the second half of the 18th century and the military campaigns of the early 19th century.

In 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte created the Regno Italico, or Kingdom of Italy (roughly comprising Northern Italy) with him as King and Eugène de Beauharnais, his stepson, as his viceroy. From then on, North Italian furniture was clearly influenced by the French Empire style, so well represented at the time by Charles Percier’s and Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine’s Recueil de décorations intérieures (see for example, plate XXX). This table is emblematic of this historical moment, when Italian craftsmen were undeniably influenced by neoclassical decorative elements, but were also attempting to create innovative designs that would expand the traditional French Empire style's vocabulary of ornamentation. This table therefore shows a clear influence of the Empire taste coming from the north, yet adopting a unique form for a carved centre table, not to be found in France at the time.

Gaetano Vaccani (1763?-1844), Raccolta di compartimenti e d’ornati per la decorazione di private abitazioni e di pubblici edifizi civili, militari ed ecclesiastici, 1832.

Two drawings testifying to the imagination and skill of North Italian craftsmen are of interest in discussing the present piece. The first drawing depicting the frieze of a fresco was executed by Gaetano Vaccani (1763?-1844) and published in 1832 in Raccolta di compartimenti e d’ornati per la decorazione di private abitazioni e di pubblici edifizi civili, militari ed ecclesiastici (ill. E. Colle, Il trionfo dell’ornato: Giocondo d’Arbertolli (1742-1839), Milan, 2005, p.241). The second drawing of a ceiling was executed by Giocondo Albertolli and published in Ornamenti diversi e Alcune decorazione di nobili sale, tavola XIV (1782), ill. G. Beretti, Il mobile dei Lumi, Milan, 2010, p.395.

Giocondo Albertolli, Ornamenti diversi e Alcune decorazione di nobili sale, 1782, tavola XIV

A pair of related consoles with trophies from the collections of the Duc de Talleyrand was sold at Christie’s Paris, 26 November 2005, lot 213 (€381,600). The design of one shield with winged flames and arrows is similar to one found on a table probably made for Joachim Murat, king of Naples, located at the Palazzo Reale, Milan (ill. E. Colle, Il mobile impero in Italia, Milan, 1998, pp.60-61).