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Object Timeline

-0001

1968

  • We acquired this object.

2019

  • You found it!

Center Table (China), 1855–60

This is a center table. It was manufactured by F. Barbedienne Foundry. It is dated 1855–60 and we acquired it in 1968. Its medium is bronze, enamel, gold. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

An octagonal tabletop of colorful cloisonné enamel is set into a carved gilt frame hung with bells. It rests atop an elaborate bronze base with three gilded elephant heads for feet, achieving an overall impression of exotic luxury. Decorative objects like this one, inspired by the Far East, had captivated Westerners for centuries, and by the mid-nineteenth century there were countless chinoiserie enthusiasts. After its defeat in the first Opium War (1840-42), China opened its borders to foreign trade. To compete with the flood of imports, European businesses moved to produce new objects. The Paris manufacturer Barbedienne, one of the leading nineteenth-century bronze foundries, began experimenting with the cloisonné technique, a method of applying enamel in cells marked by thin metal wires. By 1850, the firm was producing a variety of decorative objects, in styles that ranged from Moorish to Greek Revival, some of which were shown at exhibitions, including the 1855 Paris Exhibition and the London 1862 International Exhibition.

This object was donated by Mrs. Chester D. Noyes. It is credited Gift of Mrs. D. Chester Noyes.

Its dimensions are

H x diam.: 37.4 x 110.3 cm (14 3/4 x 43 7/16 in.)

It has the following markings

"Barbedienne"

Cite this object as

Center Table (China), 1855–60; Manufactured by F. Barbedienne Foundry (France); bronze, enamel, gold; H x diam.: 37.4 x 110.3 cm (14 3/4 x 43 7/16 in.); Gift of Mrs. D. Chester Noyes; 1968-58-1-a/k

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18466277/ |title=Center Table (China), 1855–60 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=24 May 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>