Italian Italy, Table, ca.1500-1600, Walnut and mahogany; 82.6 x 374 x 104.8 cm (32 1/2 x 147 1/4 x 41 1/4 inches), Gift of Mrs. Murray Danforth 45.073
The design of this wooden table is based on that of luxurious stone furniture made for princely patrons. Its scale suggests that it was intended for a room of impressive proportions, such as an apartment of state or a grand reception room. In prominent Italian households, well-crafted tables were often covered with fine cloths or carpets, but this table boasts robust carvings that were meant to be seen and admired. Renaissance designers looked to antiquity for inspiration: details such as the molding around the table top and the massive lion paws and scrolling foliage seen here on the side supports were inspired by the ornamentation of ancient Roman tables. American collectors purchased fine examples of Renaissance furniture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as symbols of their own wealth and power. Prior to entering the Museum’s collection, this table was owned by the newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.