Pair of console tables in lava stone and marble

Pair of small tables with top with shop assistants Tommaso (Rome 1725-Naples 1780) and Mattia (Rome 1746-Naples?) Valenziani (Attr.)

Naples, second half of the 18th century England, first half of the 19th century


Pair of tables with tops made of lava stone and marble. A selected sample of lava stones is arranged for a salesman on the floor; in the border arranged in oblong tesserae contained in a continuous ribbon thread in antique yellow and palombino, in the central reserve square tesserae defined by a double thread in comparison black and palombino white.

Two English bases from the first half of the nineteenth century support the two floors; it is a tapered column trunk resting on a square plinth completely veneered in citronnier wood and embellished with gilded bronzes.

Dimensions: 76.5 x 106.5 x 60 cm

Historical-stylistic analysis:

As Massimo Tettamanti exhaustively indicates in the essay he wrote, the pair of floors with salesmen in lava and marble is attributable to Tommaso Valenziani and his son Mattia.

Roman by birth, the two artisans moved to Naples, where, especially the father, held the position of chief restorer of bronzes at the Museum of Portici. As Mattia Valenziani recalls, in his booklet written in 1783 entitled Index Spiegato, Thomas already at the end of the sixth decade of the century began to take an interest in grouping numerous volcanic stones, reaching a degree of completeness that could define the collection as a true collection or a museum. of all the productions of Mount Vesuvius.

If the merit of having brought together a group made up of 659 lava stones belongs to the father, it is to the son that the commercial initiative must be attributed. In fact, he divided the collections into collections, forming fewer but heterogeneous groups, subdivided according to the different degree of processing of the stones and the richness of the container in which they were presented, diversifying the price. One of these collections was used as a gift by Ferdinand IV to Grand Duke Paolo, son of Catherine I and future Tsar, visiting the Neapolitan city with his wife and brother-in-law.

In the same booklet, Mattia Valenziani also recalls how the same varieties of lava stones were also used for the realization of committed floors, housed in exhibitions of the most varied forms. Their conception was born inside the portico yards, where the artisans active here were certainly influenced by the mosaic floors. The merit of having transformed a purely occasional activity into a real specialization is probably due to Valenziani son. The first floor attributed to this workshop is that for the archaeologist Norbert Hadrava, made with the fragments of ancient marble that he himself found on Capri. The perspective composition of the plan design finds a similar composition with those in question, here made with a sample of lava stones. The two floors were designed for foreign customers, presumably for some wealthy Englishman, visiting Italy during the very popular Grand Tour. The English nationality of the buyer is suggested by the manufacture of the two tables on which the committed floors were placed: it was in fact, it was customary for the tops imported from Naples to be equipped with tables made by local artisans. Massimo Tettamanti in his essay also refers to a useful table in this regard. It is a surface of lava stones resting on a neoclassical table of German production, presumably formerly of King Federico Guglielmo, the aforementioned brother-in-law of the Grand Duke Paolo, who, during his Neapolitan trip, he would have bought or received as a gift.

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