06 July 2020 | Galerie Atena
Pair of Marble-Topped Consoles in "Return From Egypt" Style
The console table is a decorative furniture item placed against walls or in the corners of the rooms, and designed to support objects and sculptures. Its original four legs are often limited to two or a single leg supporting an opulent carved or sculpted decor.
Console table reached the height of fashion during the Louis XV period and, in keeping with decorative dictates, they were considered a part of the architecture than merely a piece of furniture. In the 18th century, every element from upholstery to hardware served to unify the design of the room. A console table was then considered an integral part of the wall and of the entire room. Topped by marble trays, Louis XV consoles are lavishly carved with naturalistic and voluptuous Rocaille motifs.
Louis XV-period consoles are crafted of natural or gilded oak, and can also be painted. The curved feet are very richely decorated with rocaille, acanthus leaves, scrolling foliage, ribbing and openwork motifs.
Louis XVI consoles tables are very different from the Louis XV-period consoles. The curved legs are replaced by straight fluted legs, which are decorated with antique urn or vase.
Crafted of luxurious wood or giltwood, the half-moon or rectangular form is topped by opulent marble. Louis XVI consoles have opulent, classical decoration of interlace, rosette, flutes, garlands and ribbons.
Under the French Directoire (1795-1799), the rectangular consoles abandoned their half-moon shape. The materials and ornamentation are very simple. The tables are resting on straight legs adorned with caryatids, chimeras, swans, griffins and sphinxs, which become popular during the Empire.
Empire console is massive and rectangular, sometimes helf-moon shaped. The marble top rests on a mahogany structure highlighted with antique effigies, swans and allegorical figures in bronze. The front legs cand be decorated with gilt bronze sphinx, caryathids or palmettes.
Under the Restauration, the consoles tables kept the solid Empire structure. The use of gray marble is characteristic to this period, as is the restrained application of bronze accents. Consoles are mostly decorated with inlaid motif, and are set on two curved legs.
Napoleon III period has a predilection for small tables and consoles tables. The most interesting consoles are rather heavy pieces of furniture, with a long rectangular top resting on caryatids. Some of them are crafted of gilt bronze, others of painted cast iron.
Consoles also illustrate Napoleon III taste for eclectic styles, admired by the rising bourgeoisie. The Louis XV and Louis XVI styles experience a comeback in the 1860s. Various consoles and furniture items in neo-Louis XV style, neo-Louis XVI style or Empire style decorate interiors. Louis XVI-style, put back into fashion by the Empress Eugénie, reintroduced a formal classicism to furniture with an emphasis on simplicity, straight lines and symmetry.