A Tale of Two Tables

20th December 2018

If objects could talk, the 19th century Italian specimen marble table that features in the Furniture and Works of Art sale on 9th January, would undoubtedly have more showbiz anecdotes than a 1980s’ chat show.  

Having graced the home of the renowned actor Dirk Bogarde for over fifty years, the table has played host to a number of world famous figures including Judy Garland, Richard Attenborough, Sir Elton John, Vivien Leigh, Charlotte Rampling and Ingrid Bergman, who stayed with Bogarde in 1965 while appearing at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford. The last visitor to take tea at the table, then in Bogarde’s London flat, was Lauren Bacall, who visited the actor on the day he died, suddenly in 1999.

While it is not known for which of Bogarde’s houses the table was purchased, it is visible in photographs of Nore, his country house near Godalming in Surrey, where he lived between 1962 and 1965. The table even crossed the Channel with him and was for many years at Clermont, the Provencal former farmhouse where he lived between 1972 and 1986.

A rare and beautiful piece in itself, it combines radiating concentric panels of 96 marbles and different coloured hardstones, around a central micromosaic panel of a drake. It is included in the sale at Woolley and Wallis from the collection of Sir Jeremy Lever QC, who purchased it from Bonhams in 2005. It appears with an estimate of £15,000-25,000 (Lot 382).

From a different collection, but equally rare, is an Italian Grand Tour scagliola table top by Don Pietro Belloni, dated 1754 (Lot 376). It belongs to a series of similar table tops, one of which remains in the collection at Uppark House near Petworth in Sussex. They were made for a number of English Grand Tourists who all visited Rome at around the same time in the mid 18th century. This group of friends comprised Joseph Leeson of Russborough House in Wicklow, Matthew Fetherstonhaugh of Uppark, West Sussex and Ralph Howard of Shelton Abbey, Wicklow. Also in the group was Robert Clements of Killadoon, later 1st Earl of Leitrim. Given the near identical tastes in collecting among the group, it is surprising that no table is recorded for Clements, and it is possible that this piece was his commission. It appears in the sale with an estimate of £20,000-30,000 and comes onto the market from a private collection for the first time since 1972.

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