Artist/maker unknown, Italian

Made in Italy, Europe
Possibly made in Tuscany, Europe



30 3/8 x 53 7/8 x 52 1/2 (77.2 x 136.8 x 133.4 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

* Gallery 251, European Art 1500-1850, second floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with Museum funds, 1930

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Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    During the sixteenth century the octagonal table became an established piece of domestic furniture in Italy. Renaissance drawings and prints indicate that such tables in their grandest form were made in stone with tops ornamented with inlaid marble. A number of simpler examples in wood have survived, of which this piece--formerly in the famous Viennese collection of Albert Figdor--is one of the finest. To achieve symmetry, each side is fitted with what appears to be a drawer, although only four are functional. Most octagonal tables have supports shaped like lions' legs, which are derived from ancient precedents. Here, however, the legs are in the form of dolphins whose tails curve upward into a tight spiral; leaves and scrolls provide additional support. Dolphins are a Renaissance decorative motif that occasionally has symbolic or heraldic significance. Regardless of their possible meaning, these creatures serve as a distinctive element that contrasts with the geometric shape of the tabletop while enriching and lightening the overall design. Dean Walker, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 122.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.