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Grand Ducal Pietre Dure Console Tables
- These important tables combine the finest hardstone artistry and wood carving
- The pietre dure table tops were crafted in the famed Grand Ducal workshops of Florence
- The bases were carved by master Venetian wood sculptor Andrea Brustolon
- For approximately 150 years, these tables were part of the Stoneleigh Abbey collection
- Get complete item description here
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With their naturalistically rendered flowers and birds, these tabletop panels showcase the particularly fine quality. . .
With their naturalistically rendered flowers and birds, these tabletop panels showcase the particularly fine quality craftsmanship of the Grand Ducal workshops in Florence during the first quarter of the 17th century. Grand Duke Ferdinando I de Medici, one of the most important personages in the annals of art history, established the Grand Ducal Workshop in 1588. The workshop specialized in the art of pietre dure developed from the ancient art of opus sectile, giving rise to the most luxurious and detailed examples of hardstone artistry ever produced. Its patrons were the Popes and Royals of Europe, and the quality of the objects produced in the workshop is without equal. Typically, because of the high level of workmanship the art form requires, pietre dure plaques were crafted in small sizes. The great majority of known examples of pietre dure are a fraction of the size of our grand tables. The combination of pietre dure and extensive use of other rare decorative hardstones such as lapis lazuli and pietra paesina or “ruin marble” meant that these tabletops were surely produced for a wealthy collector.
The tables are further distinguished by their superbly carved bases by Andrea Brustolon, known as the “Michelangelo of wood.” Brustolon was a Venetian wood sculptor known for his exuberant and intricate Baroque furniture. His high Baroque style was influenced by his years studying in Rome, where he was exposed to the sculpture of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Crafted in the early 18th century, these bases display Brusolon’s unmatched talent for both figural and foliate work, combining cupids, masks and oversized scrolling vines for a grand, ornate effect. Similar furnishings by Brustolon are held in museums worldwide, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, the National Museum of Scotland and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, while the Ca' Rezzonico Museum in Venice features an entire room dedicated to the sculptor.
For approximately 250 years, these tables were part of the famed Stoneleigh Abbey collection owned by the Lord Leigh family. This renowned English country estate inspired Jane Austen to write Mansfield Park. Lord Leigh eventually sold the tables at Christie’s London in 1962, and the pair have stayed in the collection of the same Florentine family who purchased them from Christie's until we recently acquired them.
Our tables are prominently pictured in the important Saul Levy book Il Mobile Veneziano del Settencento. The pietre dure plaques date circa 1625-1650. The decorative tops likely would have originally been sold with a pair of plain stone columns to display them, and Lord Leigh would have commissioned the custom bases from Brustolon circa 1714 when he added the impressive four-story fifteen-bay Baroque West Wing to Stoneleigh Abbey.
A similar single Grand Ducal tabletop is in the United Kingdom’s National Trust Collection, and a smaller tabletop resides in Buckingham Palace. The flower and bird panels in our examples relate to the famous Badminton Cabinet, also crafted in the Grand Ducal workshops. The Badminton Cabinet became the highest-priced piece of furniture to ever sell at auction in 1990 when it sold for $16.59 million. It again set the record in December 2004, this time for $36 million, meaning it simultaneously held both the first and second place records for the highest auction prices ever for any pieces of furniture. To find a pair of objects featuring this level of artistry in hardstone and wood carving, crafted by such notable artisans, of such size and intricacy, that also hail from a titled estate is nothing short of spectacular.
Pietre dure tops: circa 1625-1650
Bases: circa 1714
Each table 61 1/4" wide x 39" deep x 36" high