Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Her Majesty’s Furniture: A Pair of Onyx Marble Pedestals, 1720

One of a Pair
of Pedestals
Onyx Marble Veneer
Over Hardstone
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection

The placement of art in a room depends on the piece—its size, scale, lines, subject and color. Members of the Royal Family have always been very particular about how they display their precious art and artifacts. In the case of sculpture (and this, really, should always be true), the choice of plinth or pedestal was just as important as the sculpture itself. These were often considered to be as much a part of the sculpture as they were an extension of the architecture of the room.

This pair of onyx marble pedestals is what remains of what was once a set of four with the other two being pink. Though they’re massive, they’re quite delicate. The onyx veneer—imported from Egypt—was prone to easy chipping. The set of pedestals came into Kensington Palace around 1720 under the direction of King George I who ordered them from an Italian designer as a means of displaying a group of four marbles of The Seasons by Camillo Rusconi. They were installed in the King’s Gallery.

In 1828, the Rusconi groups were taken to Windsor Castle. The pedestals were sent for refurbishment. Around this time, the two pink pedestals seemed to disappear while this set of two was sent to Windsor Castle where they now stand in the Queen’s Guard Chamber, supporting bronzes purchased by King George IV.

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