Our encounter with the Empire style was with an American Empire, otherwise known as Second Empire, banquet table.
However, the Empire style started in the early 1800s and ended roughly in the 1830s. Initially, it was very ornate adorned with extravagant motifs, intricate details including paw feet, accent leaves, rope twist design, and sometimes gold gilding. Originating in France under the rule of Napoleon, it was also called First French Empire.
During the early 1800s, there were many discoveries of Greek and Roman furniture and other cultural items. This sparked an enormous interest and demand for this particular style.
American Empire 1800-1840 modeled itself after the First French Empire; however, some pieces were not ornate and extravagant.
America’s best known contributor to this style was Duncan Phyfe. He was one of America’s most talented cabinet makers.
Our treasure was nestled in the back upper barn covered in dust and hidden by all of our previous barn finds. It was found to have been painted a flat black. The paint almost caused us to miss the 5- 12 inch leaves leaning up against the wall. Fortunately, the barn owners were quick to point them out. They were not painted and had a fantastic patina that revealed a beautiful tiger oak.
It sat on its pedestal at 60 inches round but after examining the underside we opened it up and found that the pedestal split in half and extended up to 10 feet with all 5- 12 inches leaves inserted.
The owners went on to tell stories of past Thanksgiving dinners they enjoyed around this table. They even told me about their great uncle who kept a family journal that referenced this very table. Doctors, Head of the Department of Agriculture, artists, businessmen, businesswomen, and professors all enjoyed time at this table.
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