Rare French Antique Louis XIII Style Open Barley Twist Writing Table

(France, 19th Century)

Rare French Antique Louis XIII Style Open Barley Twist Writing Table

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A rare and exquisite Louis XIII style open torsade (barley twist) writing table. Circa 1870s. This hand carved solid walnut desk features a beautiful beveled edge top with a visible yet subtle grain above two drawers resting on four splayed open barley twist legs, ending in pieds de camembert (bun feet). The legs are joined together by an open barley twist "X" stretcher with finial. Only the highest quality pieces have the barley twist "X" stretcher, and the open torsade of the legs is not only rare and unusual because of the difficulty of execution, but also for the weightless appearance conveyed by the graceful spirals as they appear from the base and then disappear into the top. This table can serve many purposes from its original, as a writing table or desk, to a console table or center table in a living room or entryway. The top has four pegs for easy removal during transportation.

In France, the twisted column or torsade was a major element in furniture design during the reign of King Louis XIII. Beginning in the late 18th century, there was a revival of interest in Gothic and Renaissance style, and while we describe several pieces as Louis XIII style for their use of torsades, they are more in the French Country tradition and do not approach the level of artistry and delicacy of this table. Open torsades or spirals such as the four that form the legs of this table, were each carved from a single piece of wood and only a few highly skilled artisans were able to master the technique. It was considered the height of professional accomplishment to those that did.

In Christian countries, the spiral of the torus, hence “"torsade”," represented the never-ending or beginning of God. He, like the spiral shape neither begins nor ends. And additionally, for Christians the endless nature of the spiral, represents the life everlasting through the acceptance of Christ.

WIDTH: 59 in | HEIGHT: 30½ in | DEPTH: 37 in

Origin France
Category Desks
Circa1870s
Period 19th Century
Style Louis XIII
ConditionExcellent

Shipping Estimate: $450 | White glove

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THB REF: 4020717344 DEALER REF: LFA235

Commentary

"In France, the twisted column or torsade was a major element in furniture design during the reign of King Louis XIII. Beginning in the late 18th century, there was a revival of interest in Gothic and Renaissance style, and while we describe several pieces as Louis XIII style for their use of torsades, they are more in the French Country tradition and do not approach the level of artistry and delicacy of this table. Open torsades or spirals such as the four that form the legs of this table, were each carved from a single piece of wood and only a few highly skilled artisans were able to master the technique. It was considered the height of professional accomplishment to those that did.

In Christian countries, the spiral of the torus, hence “torsade”, represented the never-ending or beginning of God. He, like the spiral shape neither begins nor ends. And additionally, for Christians the endless nature of the spiral, represents the life everlasting through the acceptance of Christ."

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