Center Table

John Finlay

Hampton National Historic Site, National Park Service

Hampton National Historic Site, National Park Service

In the early 19th century, the grouping of furniture around tables and the source of light in the center of the room became the standard practice. A. J. Downing described the center table as “the emblem of the family circle” which “draws all talkers to a single focus.” Described as “1 Centre Table carved pillar & feet …$48.00” on the original bill of sale, the central pedestal or pillar of the Finlay center table has gilded lotus and palm leaf decoration derived from ancient Egyptian sources. The bill does not record the cost of the “scagliola” top depicting a romantic landscape within an oak leaf border. The top would have been imported from Italy, where pieces of this stone-like composition material were made and decorated.

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