It isn’t often that I have a revelation about antique furniture, but it happened this week. I have a wine cooler on my site with a strigliated front (wavy flutes) and a carved stylized patera top with lion paw handles and feet in brass. On researching the piece, I found that the date put on these coolers ranges from mid-18th century to Regency. The confusion is based, I believe, on the lions which are Regency, but the strigliation is taken directly from Roman sarcophagi. By the late 18th century, Roman influenced design is not only on the wane, it has been completely phased out. In other words, the wine cooler has to date concurrent with the influence of Roman influenced designers such as Robert Adam, James “Athenian Stuart or William Chambers making the date for the coolers circa 1770.
Revelations come in all sizes and this one is not major. I am quite certain that other experts have made this realization before me, but I sense that the confusion is just another shibboleth that riddles the antique furniture world. I would like to think that there is actual evidence of these coolers being made in the 19th century, and it may exist, but I sincerely doubt that such evidence will be found. One should never say never, however.
I have been thinking about revelations because of reading “The Brothers Karamazov”. Dostoevsky does revelations very well (Raskalnikov in “Crime and Punishment”, Zosima and Alyosha in “The Brothers Karamazov”) but his revelations are more Leonard Cohen and less St. Augustine, less dogma and more Delphic Oracle. I know that one of my own personal revelations, minor in the scheme of things but important to me, was dental floss. Seemingly prosaic, but not really.