Oval table with beadwork top


Of irises on a variegated green ground, the table of stained beech with bentwood rim and beech plywood stretcher. Circa 1900.

Height  28¼”  (71.5cm).
Width  33¼”  (84.5cm).
Depth  21½”  (54cm).

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This technique of beadwork under glass is known as ‘Cloisonné Glass’ and was patented in London in 1897 by Theophil Pfister and Emil Barthels. The Cloisonné Glass Company (presumably owned by Pfister and Barthels) of 40 Berners Street /Oxford Street, manufactured screens, windows, furniture and smaller items at the turn of the century and was still active in 1905, when they published a trade catalogue which describes the technique in great detail.  A recent paper also describes the process and outlines the history of the company.

Little is known about the artists who used this technique to produce all types of objects, ranging from small paperweights to large architectural panels. In 1898, a young Catalan, Frederic Vidal Puig (1882-1950) travelled to London from Barcelona to learn the process and then returned to Spain the following year where he produced a large body of work including windows, until his departure for Argentina in 1904 .  It is known that licences were sold to other countries in Europe and to the U.S.A. from the early 20th Century.  With this present table, the oval bentwood beech frame holding the glass panel, relates to Austrian tables of the Art Nouveau period and the iris is a recurring theme in the work of Otto Eckmann (1865-1902), but this is not enough to make a firm identification of a maker, or even ascribe a country of origin.

In an earlier period, the use of glass beads for table tops is associated particularly with Brunswick in the mid-18th Century. The factory of Johann Michael van Selow, which was active for less than twenty years, produced mainly table tops, decorated usually with formal garden scenes, such as an example in the Städtischen Museum, Brunswick. Another almost identical-shaped oval top, on a painted tripod base, appeared on the market some years ago. Amongst the very few known three-dimensional objects produced in Brunswick at this time is an urn-on-stand in the Victoria and Albert Museum and another, very similar, in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight. 


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