T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, Dining Table from the Casa Encantada, Bel Air, California
Dining Table from the Casa Encantada, Bel Air, California
burl ash veneer, frosted glass
produced by Peterson Studios, Santa Barbara
with the artist's labels printed "SANS EPOQUE"/Robsjohn-Gibbings
32 1/4 x 192 x 60 in. (81.9 x 487.7 x 152.4 cm)
Overall in very good condition. When viewed firsthand, this monumental table has striking visual presence enhanced by ornate sculptural details. The wood surfaces throughout present with scattered scratches, abrasions, crackling, small chips and surface wear consistent with age and gentle use. The tabletop presents with a few more pronounced scratches, discolorations, areas of sun fading and occasional ring stains, not visually distracting. The tabletop with a few more pronounced water stains to the wood, the largest measuring approximately 1 ½ inch long. The base of the table presents with several fine hairline cracks to the wood, stable and not visually distracting when the tabletop is assembled to the base. The decorative motifs present with fine hairline cracks and a few minor losses to the wood, particularly concentrated to the acanthus leaves and some of which appear to have been sensitively restored at some point in the history of the piece. Each leg presents with a small loss to the end of one acanthus leaf measuring approximately ½ inch, not visually distracting. One acanthus leaf displays slight lifting from the base, stable. The central column with a few abrasions to the wood that appear to have been sensitively inpainted at some point in the history of the piece, the largest measuring approximately 1 inch wide and not visually distracting. A previous owner has fitted the center of the table with an electronic cable compartment covered by a square frosted glass window, enabling the piece to serve as a functional conference table. The underside of one end of the table is outfitted with command buttons (not operational). A historic table from T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings’ most famous commission.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.
Hilda Olsen Boldt Weber, Casa Encantada, Bel Air, California
Conrad Hilton, Bel Air, California, 1950
David H. Murdock, Bel Air, California, 1979
Sotheby's Parke Bernet, February 5, 1981, lot 41
DeLorenzo Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1990s
"Residence of Mrs. Hilda Boldt Weber, Bel-Air, Los Angeles, California," Architectural Digest, vol. 10, no. 3, January 1941, n.p. (for the present lot illustrated)
Daniella Ohad Smith, "T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings: Crafting a Modern Home for Postwar America," Journal of Interior Design, vol. 34, no. 1, 2008, pp. 42-44 (for a discussion of the Casa Encantada house)
Peter James Holliday, American Arcadia: California and the Classical Tradition, New York, 2016, pp. 249-253 (for a discussion of the Casa Encantada house)
A Timeless Table from the Casa Encantada
“I have always believed that art should transcend the time and place of its creation. It should be lasting and universal. Artists and designers should create in three dimensions for their works to live. There must be a profound understanding of the past as well as an awareness of the present if there is to be a future.” – T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings
Unlike his contemporaries who advocated for streamlined industrial design, Terence Harold Robsjohn-Gibbings (1905-1976) ardently believed that “the modern should stem from the very ancient.” Equipped with a background in architecture from the University of London and experience working for an antiques dealer in New York, he established his own interior design firm on Madison Avenue in 1936 where he developed a unique style of modern design inspired by Greek and Roman artifacts yet suited to contemporary living. In the same year he was approached to work on what would become one of his most celebrated projects, the Casa Encantada.
Commissioned by socialite Hilda Boldt Weber, the mansion sat on nine acres of land overlooking Los Angeles, consisted of 43 rooms and was considered “the most magnificent establishment constructed in Southern California since the great depression of 1929.” Architect James E. Dolena envisioned the building in a proportioned and symmetrical Georgian style with neoclassical ornaments, punctuated by a pedimented front entrance with elegant ionic columns. Working with Dolena’s exterior, Robsjohn-Gibbings designed approximately two hundred pieces of furniture to fill the interior and titled the collection of pieces “Sans-Epoque,” meaning timeless.
Each design featured what Robsjohn-Gibbings described as “the very old, yet always new graceful contours that have made the artists of ancient Greece the marvels of the ages.” The present table was no exception. Measuring an impressive 16 feet long, the table has the grand scale and harmonious proportions of a temple. The central leg is decorated with unfurling lotus leaves, while the leg at either end is decorated with an ornate anthemion. The tabletop is further adorned with meander-like marquetry at the outer edge, giving the highly textural Ash burl veneer a sense of order and symmetry. The completed home and its furnishings were celebrated in Architectural Digest in 1941, documenting the table in situ in all of its splendor.
A decade later, Weber sold the estate to hotel magnate Conrad Hilton who affectionately named it the Casa Encantada. The home was subsequently purchased and all of its furniture sold in a landmark sale at Sotheby’s Parke Bernet. Robsjohn-Gibbings in turn moved to Athens in 1965, culminating a career of neoclassical fantasy by living amongst his source material. To this day the Casa Encantada is regarded as a Hollywood icon and the furniture considered the designer’s greatest achievement.