Tiled, Painted & Inscribed Andalusian-style Table
height: 40.5cm, diameter: 52cm
This wonderfully evocative and sculptural table is from Morocco. It has been made from Moroccan Atlas cedar wood (Cedrus atlantica) grown in the Atlas Mountains.
It is likely to have been made in Tetouan, a city in the most northerly tip of Morocco that is opposite Gibraltar and so just a few kilometres from Spain, and using tiles most likely to have been made in Fes. Certainly, the tiles are Moorish in style.
The table is of octagonal, architectural form – the top having eight sides and there being eight baluster form legs. The legs are enhanced with arched aprons (some losses to the ends of the aprons).
The legs and sides of the table are richly decorated in greens, browns, reds and white, and feature many panels of scrolling Andalusian-Arabic cursive script amid flowers and arabesques. The script invokes Koranic blessings for happiness and joy.
The underside of the table is also richly decorated. There might have been a central pendant finial but no longer is this present. Floral decorations on the underside include a number of red and white Andalusian roses, a motif that is not indigenous to Morocco but which shows influence from Spain. Certainly, the Hispano-Moresque tiling, plasterwork and stonework seen in Andalusia in Spain shows much similarity with the work on this table.
The tiles on the top are in colours that are sympathetic to the paintwork elsewhere on the table. They are of polychrome, glazed earthenware arrayed in a complex, geometric pattern. They are identical to tiles on a mosaic pattern attributed to 19th century Fes in the Batha Museum in Fes and illustrated in Boele (2005, p. 189).
It is likely that the table was commissioned as a wedding or betrothal gift from one wealthy Moroccan family to another. The invocations for happiness and joy, and the use of roses and other flowers point to this.
The table has losses here and there but it has a wonderful patina and clear age. Importantly, all the tiles are present. Overall, it is beautiful and sculptural. (
Cedrus atlantica is a non-CITES wood.)
Boele, V. (ed.), Morocco: 5000 Years of Culture, Kit Publishers/Lund Humphries, 2005.
Sarah Corbett, pers. comm., January, 2016.
UK art market
Inventory no.: 3486
Detail from the underside of the table – the Andalusian rose is evident as the red round blooms with white brush strokes for petal definition.
Related but earlier tilework at the 13th-14th century Alhambra palace and fortress in Granada, Spain. Photographed in August 2011.