late 16th century - early 17th century
78.74 cm x 281.94 cm x 81.28 cm (31 in. x 111 in. x 32 in.)
Until the nineteenth century, dining tables rarely remained in the middle of rooms when not in use. They were moved to the room’s perimeter and there served as display surfaces until needed again for dining. The draw table, with extendable and retractable draw boards at either short end, was an introduction of the Italian Renaissance that improved upon the larger refectory table that had no moveable leaves. With the leaves drawn out from under the table surface, the tabletop nearly doubled in capacity. When retracted, the table could more conveniently be placed out of the way. The French adopted this table type during the second half of the sixteenth century, in large part due to the interest of architects such as Jacques Androuet du Cerceau and Hugues Sambin who were leaders in introducing Italian furniture styles into France. Their published engraved drawings popularized highly sculptural designs often described as “in the Italian manner” (à l’italienne).
The Dumbarton Oaks walnut draw table is an exceptional example of its type. The columnar supports of the end trestles and the central stretcher are more typical of French design than Italian, where relief-carved supports would be expected, and the wavy vertical carving of the three medial supports are an unusual Mannerist detail. As with other Renaissance pieces, the architectural vocabulary—columns, bracket scrolls, and drop pendants at the four corners—employed for the table’s design enhances its association with the classical past. One of the draw boards of this table is a later replacement.
Bühl, Gudrun, editor. Dumbarton Oaks, The Collections. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (distributed by Harvard University Press), 2008, 338f, ill.
Reportedly found in Andalusia, Spain.
Purchased from Arthur Byne (1883-1935), Madrid, Spain (dealer), (inv. no. 2182) by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, October 13, 1930.
Collection of Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, Washington, DC, 10/13/1930-11/29/1940.
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, House Collection, Washington, D.C.