Ebonized Side Table
This 19th-century French side table features a green marble top with a three-step ebonized frame. The table is supported by a triangular base, with three pairs of vines wrapped along the legs of the table. The vines are gilded and symmetrical, adding zeal and energy to this table. This piece was most likely from the King Louis-Philippe era in France (1830–1848). Louis-Philippe, known as the “Citizen King,” lived a modest life. He removed the ceremony and extravagance associated with past French monarchies. At this time, craftsmen embraced the growing industrial revolution by beginning to make furniture suites for bedrooms and dining rooms. These furniture pieces had simpler lines, a somber appearance, and minimal ornamentation. It was common for tables to have marble tops. Additionally, dark woods were fashionable, such as walnut, mahogany, and ebony. The Louis-Philippe style, devised for a pampered bourgeoisie, sought to satisfy its desire for comfort and social legitimacy. Members of the bourgeoisie often lived in tiny apartments, so furniture became more functional and smaller to suit their lifestyle. These smaller pieces are highly sought after since their compact size and shape is well-suited to any room.
At this time in France, artist and chemist Louis Daguerre (1787–1851) invented the Daguerreotype, the first publicly available photographic process, in the 1840s. The entire process was quite complicated, and included the use of mercury vapour and other chemical treatments. The surface of the finished product was quite delicate, and had to be sealed in a protective glass enclosure. The Daguerreotype process fell out of fashion in the 1860s, with the invention of the ambrotype, a process that was significantly more affordable.