Exceptional & Rare Mid Century Italian Alabastro di Palombara, Gibraltar Stone & Brass Cocktail or Coffee Table, Circa 1955. Constructed using only the finest & rarest stone, this truly exquisite & refined table is a rare & important masterpiece. The outstandingly beautiful colours & detail throughout exhibits a spectacular flow around the whole table. The superb bookmatched veneer figuration, intricate & detailed crossbanding are the finest you will see. The top sits on a truly elegant two tone shaped brass base. It is in very good condition for its age.
Alabastro di Palombara is fine grained, compact and unusually opaque. Bands of pure white and rich brown are straight or curved depending on which way the stone is cut. It is the most distinctive of the many alabaster fragments found in the grounds of the Villa Polombara on the Esquiline Hill of Rome. This was the residence of the eccentric 17th century alchemist Marquis Massimiliano Palombara, built on the Hortus Lamiani, the pleasure gardens of Imperial Rome. When the archaeologist Rodolfo Lanciani organised excavations between 1773 and 1776, he discovered the relics of a palace that once had floors and walls richly decorated with oriental alabaster.
Opinions have varied as to where the stone was quarried. Marble expert Raniero Gnoli suggested it came from Asia Minor but specimens in the Borromeo collection in Milan indicated that it may have come from Iano, near Montaione in Tuscany, the source of Alabastro a Tartaruga. One thing is for certain, it is an incredibly rare stone, usually only found in historic collections.
Gibraltar Stone. Hidden within the famous Rock of Gibraltar is a huge network of more than 150 caves. It is monumental outcrop of Jurassic limestone. Rainwater percolating through fractures in the stone has worn huge caverns and the sea has played its part too, in eroding the rock. The caves have sheltered humans since Neanderthal times and are famous for the skeletons and artefacts that have been discovered since the 19th Century. Stunning stalactites have flowed down and in places meet stalagmites inching upwards. These amazing structures used to be cut and polished then incorporated into various small ”Grand Tour / Souvenir” items. They were sold as Gibraltar Onyx or simply Gibraltar Stone. The stalagmites & stalactites are now protected, making the beautifully figured & large piece incorporated within the centre of this incredible table even more rare.