Pair of Empire-style Console tables
Console tables were primarily intended for decoration rather than to serve a particular function; usually attached to a wall by a bracket.
Made from pine with ebony veneers, these console tables are supported on two legs carved in the shape of griffins and gilded in bronze. Each table has three gilt-bronze mounts attached to the front, the central one featuring a pair of swans: a popular motif at the time and one that was particularly favoured by the French Empress Joséphine Bonaparte (1763-1814).
Widely available in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries, and are comparatively simple in terms of surface decoration as opposed to pieces such as the boulle-work desks (F2 and F3) or the three commodes (F5, F6 and F11) in the collection. This kind of simplicity in the arts was synonymous with a much wider spread Greek revival, which spread further than just France. With their gilt bronze mounts and sheer ebony finish, the tables manage to command a sense of grandeur and imperial majesty despite lacking the ornament of other earlier pieces in the collection.
French console tables were usually placed on a plinth and it is more likely that these smaller tables, noticeably lacking plinths, were produced in England. It was common practice, however, for craftsmen to mix and match different structural and decorative elements from a number of European countries. Recent analysis has identified the mounts as being of particularly high quality and similar to those that could be bought in France. And comparing these monopodia console tables to other examples dated to the period of Napoleon’s rule, experts are fairly certain that the Dulwich pair can be dated to the turn of the nineteenth century.