Sunday, December 22, 2013

Her Majesty's Furniture: The Christmas Table, 1855

The Victoria & Albert Museum

This table, created in the style of Louis XVI features marquetry of tulipwood among other woods, with mounts of gilded and silvered bronze and a frieze set with a porcelain plaque

Queen Victoria (r. 1837-1901) ordered this small French table as a Christmas present for her husband, Prince Albert, in 1855. The porcelain plaque on the front frieze shows their joint monogram, ‘VA’.

The gift of the table was meant as a souvenir of their state visit to the Emperor Napoleon III in France earlier in 1855, a visit which also coincided with the Exposition Universelle in Paris. This elaborate exhibition was France’s pointed response to the British success of the Great Exhibition of 1851.

Queen Victoria visited the Paris exhibition three times, enjoying it immensely. However, she did not order this table until she returned to London. The table is the work of the firm of Edouard Kreisser. It was accompanied by a matching cabinet. Both the table and the cabinet were known to be at Osborne House in the late-nineteenth—located in the Small Drawing Room or Audience Room. It is not known when or how the table left the Royal Collection, but I have no doubt that Queen Mary didn’t know it was missing or she’d have found a way to get it back.

The table resurfaced in 1964 when it was known to be with the dealers of Kerrins in London. It was then purchased by Mr. George Farrow, who presented it to the V&A.

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