Featuring mosaics attributed to Antonio de Angelis, one of the finest of all mosaicists active in the early 19th century, these beautiful, important, and exceptionally rare console tables were made in all likelihood for the Russian Imperial Court in the early-to-mid 19th century.
The craftsmanship, exquisite, intricate, and meticulous in its execution, is thus a combination of Italian and Russian-based makers, though they clearly took inspiration from a number of European and particularly French 18th and 19th century sources. Mounted mosaics as superb as these in equally exceptional tables or items of furniture is very rare, and thus these tables constitute important and possibly unique items of fine and decorative arts.
They are each crafted from walnut, with a rectangular malachite top, centred with micromosaic panels, one of which depicts a woodland landscape with Classical ruins and an anthemion border. The other depicts waterfowl in a beautiful lakeland scene, this time with a foliate border. They feature egg-and-dart friezes beneath the table top, above appliques of Classical mythological images. The latter image (with birdlife) is signed 'A.D,' in mosaic to the lower left.
Antonio de Angelis is recognized in the Archivo della Reverenda Fabbrica di San Pietro (of the Vatican), as a leading artist working outside of the Vatican Studios. The attribution to him is firm, based upon strong stylistic comparison with other micromosaics signed by him, and the inspiration for the first design - that features the waterfowl - quite possibly comes from the work of Johann Wenceslaus Peter (1742-1829), who produced prints and paintings, often selling designs to mosaic makers. The latter is also known as one of the finest and most beloved painter of birds and animals of his time - the Italian equivalent to England's George Stubbs, with whom he shared certain artistic similarities.
As for the landscape design, it seems to have been inspired by Jacob Philipp Hackert, a German artist active in Italy (like Wenceslaus Peter), known for his landscape paintings. The craftsmanship of the tables, meanwhile, is possibly attributable to Heinrich Gambs (1765-1831), who is known for supplying furniture to the Russian Imperial Court from c.1800 to the mid 19th century.
The strong attributions, as well as the clear influence - and likely involvement - of leading artists active in Rome c.1810-20, help make these pieces exceptionally rare and important works. Beautifully crafted, with exquisite craftsmanship proportionate to the exceptional artistry of the mosaicist, they will make the right interior and connoisseur's collection truly something magnificent to behold.
Sotheby's Parke Bernet, Monaco, 24 June 1976, lot 185
Alffieri, M. in Gabriel, J.H., The Gilbert Collection of Micromosaics (2000), London, p.264.
Guattani, G.A., Memorie Enciclopediche Romane, vol. IV (1806-19), Rome, p.157.
Lady Morgan, France in 1829-30, vol.II (1830), London, p.177.
Petochi, D., Mosaici Minuti Romani (1981), Florence, p.55.
Semyonov, S.B., Malachite (1987) Sverdlovsk, p.193, ill. 58-61; p.180, ill. 42.
Sychev, I., Russian Bronze (2003), Moscow, pp.99 & 224.