Fig. 174. Oak Table With Hinged Tops And Double Gate. - Date about 1670. - Messrs. Gregory and Co.
Fig. 175. Oak Corner Table With Hinged Top. - Date about 1650. - Messrs. Gregory and Co.
Fig. 176. Oak Table With Hinged Top. - Top, 2 ft. 5. ins. by 2 ft. 2 ins. Height, 2 ft. 5 ins. Date about 1680. - H. Clifford Smith, Esq.
Fig. 177. Oak Table. - Top, 2 ft. 6 ins. by 1 ft. 5 ins. Height, 2 ft. 6 ins. Date about 1680-90. - H. Clifford Smith, Esq.
Fig. 178. Oak Table With Hinged Top. - Top, 4 ft. 7 ins. by 3 ft. 4 1/2 ins. - Date about 1690.
Another, and a later form of the hinged top table, which could be used for dining when extended, and when not required for such use, could be folded and placed against a wall, is shown in Fig. 173. Here the section of the stretcher-rails and the bun fret below the twisted legs indicate a date towards the end of the reign of Charles II. This table is made from English walnut, another evidence of a late period.
The form of the graceful vase-baluster begins towards the middle of the seventeenth century, and carries us into the early years of the eighteenth. Its development, and the probable reasons which dictated its evolution, will be considered later. In Fig. 174 this type just begins to assert itself. In the small table, Fig. 175, it is shown in its advanced form, but there is a tendency to elaboration in the turning members of the lower part of the shaft, which is not found in the later work. Figs. 176 and 177 show the growing tendency towards simplicity, in the turning of these vase-balusters, which manifests itself as the century advances. Fig. 178 is an important table, which may date from the short reign of James II, but is probably even later. The legs are finely proportioned and turned with great skill and taste. The general construction is early in type, but there is a maturity in the composition of the whole design which suggests a late date.
As the seventeenth century closes, there are evidences of increasing skill in the use of the turning lathe, not so much a mere mechanical perfection in the use of the chisel and gouge, as a training of the eye and a taste in details and proportions which make the turned balusters of this period real works of art, - a delight to the connoisseur. The altar-railing from New Romney Church, Fig. 179, is given here to show this perfection in detail, and skill in design, of the wood-turners of the early Orange years. The beauty of these balusters, the subtlety of each line and member can only be appreciated on careful examination. It is only when a memory copy is made, and compared with the original, that the full idea of how much has been overlooked or ill-remembered becomes apparent even to a trained draughtsman.
Fig. 179. Portion Of Oak Altar Railing. - Date about 1690-5. New Romney Church, Kent.
Fig. 180. Types Of Turned Table Legs Of The Seventeenth Century.
Single Bine Twist.
Fiddle Head Twist.
Double Open Twist.
Tapered - Single Bine - Twist.
Triple Open Twist.
Point Twist. - Fig. 181. Types Of Twist- Or Spiral-Turning Of The Seventeenth Century.
We have been concerned, in this chapter, chiefly with the evolution of table-leg turning. It is only just before the eighteenth century is reached that shaping (such as in the instance of the cabriole leg) begins to usurp the place of turning. The subject here concerning itself with the development of the solid oak table, some later forms which are associated, almost entirely, with the use of walnut and veneering have not been illustrated. The diagram, Fig. 180, may be of some little service in tracing this evolution of the turned leg on seventeenth-century tables. A writer of an illustrated book, such as this, who has many photographs before him, a far greater number than it is possible to reproduce in a work of this size, has still the advantage over his readers of being able to trace developments from example to example, which, although evident to him on comparison, cannot be stated other than empirically without the use of lavish illustration to prove his statements, which is here impossible. These twelve examples are not actual copies from existing tables; the idea has been rather to include several variations in the one type, in order to explain, pictorially, the evolution of form. Thus A must be taken as an example which includes all the bulbous-leg forms of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, where the squares above and below are pared down, almost disproportionately, in order to emphasise the bulb itself. The type which is contained in the one square of wood, without any diminishing of the squares, is shown in B. The development towards the inverted vase-baluster is shown in C, and in D the cup-turning of the later walnut period is suggested. The true Orange baluster-leg, with inverted cup, is shown in E, and F is another variation of the same form, found on tables, chairs and the turned-leg stands of marqueterie or veneered chests or cabinets shortly before 1700. G marks a return to the early column-leg, other varieties of which are given in H and I. The vase-baluster, J, can be traced back to the forms of C and D. The reversal of the leg is not such an advance as one would expect, as, in the making of these tables, the legs are received from the turner, to be framed together by the cabinet-maker. At this stage, to view the leg upside down is a procedure which would occur, obviously, and it would be found, in some instances, - as for example in D, - that this reversal might be an advantage rather than a defect. The legs once framed together, as a table, this turning upside down would cease to be a possibility.
To close this series, K may be taken as representative of the Restoration twist and L of the Commonwealth bobbin-turning. The dates of the inceptions of the various forms have already been stated, at an earlier stage in this chapter, and recapitulation is unnecessary here. This subject of turning, especially that of lathe twisting, however, is so fascinating, as illustrating not only the evolution of fashion but also the progression of the art of the wood-turner, that the two remaining pages, Figs. 181 and 182, may be of service, in showing what was achieved by the aid of the lathe and gouge during the latter half of the seventeenth and the first years of the eighteenth centuries. The illustrations are, for the most part, self-explanatory, and it is hardly necessary to point out that the various patterns do not differ, other than in bulk of timber, whether used for the legs of tables or chairs, the balusters of stairs or the stands of cabinets.