Table de milieu

France, Louis XIV period, circa 1690-1700.

Materials: carved and gilt-wood; red marble top.

Measurements: Height : 34 in. (85.5 cm.) ; Width : 48 in. (122 cm.) ; Depth: 23 ¾ in. (61 cm.).

Provenance: formerly in the Keck Collection.

Rectangular in shape, this richly carved and gilt-wood table de milieu is supported on four straight tapering legs partly square in section. Built in two stages, each leg presents a lower stage in open-work baluster shape carved with typical Louis XIV motives such as acanthus leaves, rosettes and fleuron. The impressive upper stage is flanked by winged putti of gilt-wood carved in the round.

The four legs are joined by an X-shaped stretcher richly carved with acanthus leaves.

The two main sides of the table are interrupted in the centre at either end by a large symmetrical foliated cartouche. Similar but smaller cartouches underline the two other sides. The rectangular red marble top of the table is likewise enclosed in a rounded, slightly projecting gilt-wood moulding.

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The model for this elaborate table dates from the last quarter of the seventeenth century. If we turn to the inventory of Louis XIV, the first similar tables in carved and gilt-wood are described around the 1680s.

The sources of our table derive in part from models designed and engraved by Pierre Lepautre (1648-1716), probably one of the greatest architects and designers of Louis XIV. Tables very closely in general conception with similar cartouches, legs, stretchers and carved ornaments were published in a book by Lepautre entitled Livre de Tables qui sont dans les appartements du Roy sur lesquels sont poses les bijoux du cabinet des médailles.

Our table symbolizes perfectly the two parallel aims of the French baroque style, developed by Louis XIV’s team of architects and designers, which were measured grandeur and dazzling magnificence. The great tapestries, cabinets and other precious furniture such as our table were used by their owners to impress rather than to charm. Our table also is an imposing example of the supremacy of the French woodworkers in Europe about the 1690s.

“Deprive France, and especially its capital, of luxury, and you kill the greatest part of its trade; I say more, you will have deprived it of much of its supremacy in Europe”.