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Center Table

Decorative Arts and Design

This center table was made by Baltimore’s preeminent cabinetmaker, John Finlay. Baltimore furniture makers developed a unique interpretation of the Neoclassical style characterized by bold forms and painted and stenciled decoration. The top was made in Italy, although its painted scene is based on the work of the Vernet family of France. The technique used to make the top, called scagliola (Italian for “plaster”), is a less expensive and less labor-intensive alternative to the traditional technique of hardstone mosaic.
MEDIUM Wood, brass, gilt, plaster (scagliola)
DATES ca. 1825
DIMENSIONS 30 3/8 x 33 x 33 in. (77.2 x 83.8 x 83.8 cm)  (show scale)
MARKINGS Underside of table inscribed, "Maritime Vernet", which probably refers to either Claude Joseph Vernet or Carle Vernet; both were French artists known for their maritime-inspired engravings.
CREDIT LINE Purchased with funds given by an anonymous donor, gift of the American Art Council and Designated Purchase Fund
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Center table, wood, brass, and scagliola. Table is ebonized and embellished with simulated rosewood graining (pedestal), stenciled and free hand gilt work, applied brass roundels and a decorated scagliola circular top. Top is supported by a turned wooden pedestal, which is raised by four down swept C-scrolled legs, which terminate with brass animal paw toe tips. Pedestal and legs are ebonized and decorated with gilt anthemion, gilt borders and round brass medallions. The convex apron of the table (5 3/4"high) is constructed of narrow strips of wood, stacked five layers high, and ebonized with gilt borders and a gilt rinceaux design repeated five times. The circular scagliola top has a painting comprising three men fishing and a basket-bearing female, all placed in a seaside landscape. In the far left horizon is a medieval castle, and an enclosing fortezza, and adrift of the shore is a full-mast ship. Surrounding border consists of tromp l'oeil beads, shaded in gold monochromatic hues. Succeeding the beaded border is a narrow circular border, which is rose in color. The outermost border is a continuous circle of intertwined oak leaves and acorns, shaded in monochrome tones of brown. Background of tabletop is black. CONDITION: Fair; several deep and penetrating cracks in top (top previously broken and repaired, re-backed), various water stain "rings". Stacked wood layers of apron are buckling. Various chips in ebonized surface. Gilt work in excellent condition.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Table legs attributed to John Finlay (American, born Ireland, 1777–1851). Center Table, ca. 1825. Wood, brass, gilt, plaster (scagliola), 30 3/8 x 33 x 33 in. (77.2 x 83.8 x 83.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased with funds given by an anonymous donor, gift of the American Art Council and Designated Purchase Fund, 88.24. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 88.24_top_bw.jpg)
IMAGE top, 88.24_top_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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