Show me:
and
Clear all filters

  • 25 items Explore
  • 35 items
  • 25 items Explore
  • 48 items
  • 89 items
  • 3,445 items Explore
  • 97 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 4 items
  • 42 items
  • 11,193 items Explore
  • 209 items Explore
  • 1,235 items Explore
  • 8,505 items Explore
  • 5,049 items Explore
  • 72 items Explore
  • 167 items Explore
  • 10,621 items Explore
  • 13,625 items Explore
  • 4,646 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 5 items
  • 153 items Explore
  • 2,038 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 4,758 items Explore
  • 24 items Explore
  • 437 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 19,205 items Explore
  • 34 items Explore
  • 1,027 items Explore
  • 1,113 items Explore
  • 6 items
  • 2,396 items Explore
  • 456 items Explore
  • 29 items
  • 920 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 1 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 7 items
  • 19,416 items Explore
  • 791 items Explore
  • 19 items
  • 73 items Explore
  • 33 items
  • 800 items
  • 25 items
  • 61 items
  • 28 items
  • 319 items Explore
  • 6 items
  • 44 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 2 items
  • 145 items
  • 2 items
  • 9 items
  • 121 items Explore
  • 119 items
  • 1 items
  • 1,021 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 800 items
  • 95 items
  • 27 items
  • 108 items
  • 28,118 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 3,837 items Explore
  • 1,521 items Explore
  • 403 items
  • 158 items Explore
  • 9,743 items Explore
  • 9,685 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 1 items
  • 39 items
  • 3 items
  • 4 items
  • 5,138 items Explore
  • 7,443 items Explore
  • 4,433 items Explore
  • 1,536 items Explore
  • 930 items Explore
  • 3,493 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 334 items
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 3,444 items Explore
  • 20 items Explore
  • 354 items Explore
  • 797 items Explore
  • 1,095 items Explore
  • 510 items Explore
  • 1,047 items Explore
  • 1,138 items
  • 89 items
  • 125 items Explore
  • 6,953 items Explore
  • 170 items
  • 310 items
  • 4 items
  • 20 items
  • 61 items
  • 304 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 2,923 items Explore
  • 1,575 items Explore
  • 203 items
  • 43 items
  • 19,430 items Explore
  • 1,242 items Explore
  • 138 items
  • 843 items Explore
  • 32 items
  • 1 items
  • 132 items Explore
  • 24 items
  • 40 items
  • 20 items
  • 252 items
  • 314 items
  • 747 items Explore
  • 1,897 items
  • 349 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 2,426 items
  • 2,525 items
  • 3 items
  • 3 items
  • 1 items
  • 4,390 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 34,642 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 3,285 items Explore
  • 274 items Explore
  • 8,067 items Explore
  • 31 items
  • 25 items
  • 732 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 65 items
  • 161 items
  • 52 items
  • 21,728 items Explore
  • 916 items
  • 18 items
  • 22,118 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 2,333 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 1,052 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 59 items
  • 499 items
  • 3,289 items Explore
  • 175 items
  • 453 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 21 items
  • 90 items Explore
  • 76 items
  • 281 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 6 items
  • 128 items
  • 293 items
  • 736 items
  • 868 items
  • 1 items
  • 369 items Explore
  • 272 items Explore
  • 11,301 items Explore
  • 760 items Explore
  • 6,029 items Explore
  • 11 items
  • 7,404 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 5,360 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 3,732 items Explore
  • 9,201 items Explore
  • 7,745 items Explore
  • 200 items
  • 19 items
  • 142 items
  • 7 items
  • 1,024 items Explore
  • 19 items
  • 4,169 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 1,096 items Explore
  • 223 items
  • 1 items
  • 3,495 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 20 items
  • 696 items Explore
  • 18 items
  • 134 items
  • 6,652 items Explore
  • 14,231 items Explore
  • 3,127 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 8 items
  • 9,317 items Explore
  • 37 items
  • 2 items
  • 21,320 items Explore
  • 131 items
  • 38 items
  • 13,167 items Explore
  • 3,382 items Explore
  • 2,306 items Explore
  • 44 items
  • 41,415 items Explore
  • 637 items Explore
  • 415 items
  • 23,271 items Explore
  • 218 items
  • 3 items
  • 1 items
  • 20 items
  • 27 items
  • 300 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 217 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 13,208 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 10,261 items
  • 9 items
  • 10 items
  • 14 items
  • 25 items
  • 1 items
  • 4,535 items Explore
  • 918 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 39 items
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 220 items
  • 702 items Explore
  • 42 items
  • 2,284 items Explore
  • 1,662 items Explore
  • 15 items
  • 1,928 items Explore
  • 151 items
  • 84 items
  • 772 items Explore
  • 3,310 items Explore
  • 41 items
  • 17 items
  • 12 items
  • 10,655 items Explore
  • 23,089 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 1,374 items
  • 180 items Explore
  • 8 items
  • 92 items
  • 13,323 items Explore
  • 3,572 items Explore
  • 2,652 items Explore
  • 4,776 items Explore
  • 22 items
  • 45 items
  • 6,899 items Explore
  • 4,796 items Explore
  • 272 items Explore
  • 2,300 items Explore
  • 2,922 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 1,862 items Explore
  • 291 items
  • 223 items Explore
  • 448 items Explore
  • 6,120 items Explore
  • 8,818 items Explore
  • 1,859 items Explore
  • 5,793 items Explore
  • 3,339 items Explore
  • 11,046 items Explore
  • 86 items
  • 11 items
  • 1,645 items Explore
  • 7 items
  • 24 items
  • 51 items
  • 5 items
  • 1 items
  • 2,906 items Explore
  • 620 items Explore
  • 62 items
  • 17 items
  • 151 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 87 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 463 items
  • 996 items Explore
  • 3,604 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 9,402 items Explore
  • 48 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 42 items
  • 3 items
  • 13,714 items Explore
  • 1,169 items Explore
  • 92 items
  • 10,566 items Explore
  • 1,005 items Explore
  • 1,924 items
  • 7,133 items Explore
  • 21 items
  • 12,940 items Explore
  • 1,418 items Explore
  • 6 items
  • 9,584 items Explore
  • 16,318 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 1,668 items Explore
  • 175 items
  • 58 items
  • 5,684 items Explore
  • 8,787 items Explore
  • 48 items
  • 25 items
  • 2 items
  • 59 items
  • 3 items
  • 7,382 items Explore
  • 402 items Explore
  • 13 items
  • 4 items
  • 1 items
  • 6 items
  • 4 items
  • 103 items Explore
  • 7 items
  • 5 items
  • 480 items
  • 299 items Explore
  • 8,365 items Explore
  • 55 items
  • 22,942 items Explore
  • 7,350 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 26 items
  • 3,829 items Explore
  • 464 items
  • 5 items
  • 339 items Explore
  • 12,691 items Explore
  • 55 items
  • 20 items
  • 7 items
  • 4 items
  • 315 items Explore
  • 434 items
  • 183 items
  • 3,692 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 1,228 items Explore
  • 2,494 items Explore
  • 732 items Explore
  • 36 items
  • 1,135 items Explore
  • 97 items Explore
  • 42 items
  • 217 items Explore
  • 73,620 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 3,065 items Explore
  • 2,845 items Explore
  • 39 items
  • 3,615 items Explore
  • 1,832 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 17,324 items Explore
  • 5,508 items Explore
  • 7 items
  • 633 items Explore
  • 85 items
  • 1 items
  • 468 items
  • 39 items
  • 76 items
  • 29 items
  • 335 items
  • 3 items
  • 41 items
  • 1,176 items Explore
  • 109 items
  • 805 items
  • 17 items
  • 11,073 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 13 items
  • 1,546 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 214 items
  • 16,819 items Explore
  • 85 items
  • 17 items
  • 1 items
  • 9 items
  • 8 items
  • 324 items
  • 2 items
  • 626 items Explore
  • 1,587 items Explore
  • 8 items
  • 1,035 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 261 items

Select a time period

Or choose a specific year

Clear all filters

'The Roman Pietra Dura Table'

Category

Furniture

Date

circa 1580

Materials

Hardstone top, gilded and painted limewood base

Measurements

92 x 257 x 134 cm

Place of origin

Rome

Order this image

Collection

Powis Castle and Garden, Powys (Accredited Museum)

NT 1181054

Caption

This rare and high-status feature table was purchased for Powis Castle in Wales and must have inspired awe and wonder. It is made of precious decorative stones set into an inventive design depicting birds, insects, flowers and foliage, and was produced in Italy around 1580. The table was never meant for dining, and not all visitors shared the host’s passion for this ornate piece of furniture. In the 1790s one guest commented that the sale of this Roman table could pay for ‘the purchase of a good English dining table’. The stones used for the tabletop were particularly valuable in their own right, and some may even derive from ancient archaeological sources, such as the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, which were excavated in the 1540s. By tradition, this table is said to have come from the Borghese Palace. It may have been acquired in Italy by George Herbert, 2nd Earl of Powis (1755–1801), during his grand tour of Italy.

Summary

A pietre dure and marble table top, Roman, circa 1580, atop a gilded and painted limewood base, Italian or French, circa 1580. The rectangular top with moulded edge and inlaid with hardstones depicting insects and flowers around large central roundels. Raised on an architectural base of arcades and fluted columns, supported by three pairs of gilded buttress-like monopedic trusses of creatures with lion or lioness masks, human torsos, and hairy paw feet.

Full description

Visiting Powis Castle in 1793, Lord Torrington suggested that the ‘inlaid Roman table’ should be sold, and the proceeds be ‘put towards the purchase of a good English dining table’. Torrington’s own taste aside, this monumental sixteenth-century work of art was not intended for dining but was designed as a centrepiece and evidence of its owner’s sophistication and taste. The table-top is inlaid with decorative hardstones (pietre dure) which were probably sourced from newly discovered archaeological sites such as the Baths of Caracalla, excavated from the 1540s. This connection with ancient Rome was important for the sixteenth-century patrons of these works of art, representing a legacy of the Eternal City and, crucially, their own wealth and power. The Powis table is one of a small group, including another in the National Trust collection at Charlecote Park (NT 532954), that seem to derive from similar designs and were possibly commissioned from the same Roman workshop. The central roundels on this table, and the Charlecote example, contain Tartaruga alabaster and Breccia di Tivoli marble, with borders of various stones including black-and-white Aquitanian marble which became increasingly rare during the Renaissance. Workshops in Rome specialised in technically dexterous decoration with polychrome hardstones forming mannerist patterns of birds, insects, flowers and foliate scrollwork. According to family tradition the table came from the Borghese Palace, Rome, sometime after the sixteenth century. There was certainly papal patronage for these expensive tables, a group of similar examples owned by Pope Julius III (1487-1555) was described by the architect and sculptor Bartolomeo Ammannati (1511-92) as ‘rare and wonderful things’ and such tables also appear in the inventories of Pope Sixtus V (1585-90). The table’s base is probably either French or Italian and is very rare in its own right. It is partly water gilded and painted to imitate porphyry, and the finely carved limewood lion and lioness monopodia, and the Ionic columns, retain most of their original 16th century gilding. The columns’ capitals are carved with upright pears, a most unusual feature which may relate the table to Pope Sixtus V (1521-1590), whose family name was Peretti (little pears).

Provenance

Possibly acquired in Rome by Roger Palmer, Earl of Castlemaine (first cousin to William Herbert, 3rd Lord Powis and first Earl, Marquis and titular Duke of Powis (1634-1705), who conducted an embassy from King James II to Pope Innocent XI, after being appointed the King’s ambassador-extraordinary in 1685, and possibly delivered in 1704, along with a set of 12 marble busts of Caesars, from Powis House, London. Part of the indigenous collection of Powis Castle accepted in part satisfaction of the Estate duty after the death of the Right Honourable George Charles, 4th Earl of Powis, on 9th November 1952. The contract of the 'Offer of Property in Satisfaction of Estate Duty under the National Land Fund Scheme' was completed on 21st March 1963. Conveyed to National Trust ownership in 1992.

References

Jervis and Dodd 2015 Simon Swynfen Jervis and Dudley Dodd, Roman Splendour, English Arcadia: the English taste for pietre dure and the Sixtus Cabinet at Stourhead, 2015, p.50-51 Giusti 1992: Anna Maria Giusti, Hardstone in furniture and decorations, Philip Wilson, 1992., p.29-30 Ostergard 2001 : D.E Ostergard, B.McLeod, A. Turpin (and other contributors) : William Beckford, 1760-1844 : An Eye for the Magnificent, Exhibition October 2001-April 2002, The Bard Graduate Center, New York and The Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, 2001, p.186-193 Wainwright, 1989: Clive Wainwright, The romantic interior: the British collector at home, 1750-1850. Studies in British Art. New Haven; London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art by Yale University Press, 1989. [Charlecote pp.208-240] Koeppe 2008: Wolfram Koeppe, Annamaria Giusti, Art of the Royal Court, Treasures in Pietre Dure from the Palaces of Europe, exhibition July 1-September 21 2008, Metropolitan Museum, New York.

View more details