This table demonstrates the tendency in 19th-century American design to look at European history for design choices. This table is considered "Baroque Revival" in style and is based on 18th-century French design. There are also influences from Japan seen in the "ebonized" or blackened wood is meant to mimic lacquer.
This table is beautiful! What is it made of?
This table is made of ebonized wood, which is wood that has been chemically treated to become as dark as the hardwood ebony. The wood is inlaid with a brightly polished brass and is mounted with gilt bronze.
This table is absolutely a wonder!
Isn't it? To American eyes in the 19th century, anything French was fashionable! The curving lines of the legs are great example; the maker of this table was looking back to the early 18th-century French Baroque style for inspiration.
Was gold a popular accent for furniture?
Absolutely! Gilded bronze would catch the candlelight in the 18th century and gas light in the 19th. At night, the dark wood would appear to disappear and the gold elements would almost seem to float.
Is this the same reason for picture frames having gold designs?
Yes, that is probably true for picture frames as well. Gold leaf was also used to enhance the appearance of an object and make seem more expensive; sometimes gold leaf is used over an inexpensive material, such as plaster.
What styles influenced the design of this table?
Furniture design from the mid-nineteenth century took inspiration from several historical styles.
This table draws on many styles.The Rococo influence can be seen in the curvilinear silhouette and the curving, cabriole legs.. The French Baroque influence can be seen in the gilt bronze figures on the legs, and in the design for the medallion on the table top. The ebonized wood is made to imitate Japanese lacquer.
Is this Louis XV style?
Sort of! This is a revival of the Rococo style established in France under Louis XV. This is The large gilded bronze mounts would have been right at home at Versailles! Created around 1865, this table combines influences from the French Baroque and Rococo styles of the late 17th and early 18th centuries.
After the American Civil War, developments in steam travel meant more and more Americans were visiting the great palaces of Europe - and wanted to recreate some of what they saw back in the United States. In the second half of the nineteenth century, it became common practice to stain woods dark so that they resembled ebony or lacquer.