Beastly Base For This Extraordinary Table!

June 17 2010, 2:17am

We love zoomorphism and today we’re bringing you another piece that comprises several animalier elements, including one of our favorites- the serpent!

This interesting carved walnut and faux bronze circular center table, circa 1820, is an example of Italian design in the early 19th century, which had been greatly influenced by French taste after the Napoleonic wars carried the Empire style across the continent. This vogue was made fashionable by the aristocracy, but also by an emerging middle-class market which aided in the dissemination and support of workshops that continued throughout the century.   Animal motifs, including the lion mask, were elements of style that became popular in this period and are found on the present table, along with traces of neoclassicism in the floral roundels and garlands of the frieze. The exceptional table base is comprised of four zoomorphic legs headed with lion masks and terminating in hairy paw feet. The legs are joined together by an x-shaped stretcher in the form of four serpents. The serpent heads meet in the center to support a sphere, while their tails appear to pierce each leg from the inside and continue on the outside. Figure 1 and 2 are related circular tables from southern Italy, also made in the first quarter of the 19h century, with zoomorphic legs that are connected by serpents.

The serpent has been used in ornamentation since ancient times and was reintroduced in 18th and 19th century decorative arts with the revived interest in classical civilizations. Though they have an almost universal presence, symbolic interpretations of serpents range from temptation and evil to regeneration and immortality. Groups of serpents, often knotted together, are also be found in heraldic symbolism denoting wisdom