Octagonal Tabouret with Bone or Ivory Inlay1800-1935
24 in. x 24 in. (60.96 cm x 60.96 cm)
Bryn Mawr College
The top of the table has several concentric rings of inlaid floral and vegetal designs. Starting from the outside: a thin band of alternating black and white inlay, a small band of white trefoils, a white line, a band of white flowers joined by curved lines, a second white line, a small band of white quatrefoils, a large band of interlocking floral and vegetal lines, a second small band of white quatrefoils, a third white band, a third band of white quatrefoils. The central medallion consists of several flowers on leafy stems arising from the central design of white diamonds.
The elaborate vegetal inlay and curvilinear arches can be attributed to the increased influence of Indian aesthetics at the time. American art inspired by Indian designs increased over the course of the late-18th and early 19th centuries. Since the early 1600s, one can trace the history of British trade with India. In 1757, however, the British East India Company effectively controlled India after the Battle of Plassey; after the Indian Rebellion in 1857, the British government began direct rule over India in 1858. The visibility of Indian art and design to American audiences increased alongside British control over the peninsula through the display and distribution of Indian works, such as in the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London. The Deanery at Bryn Mawr College prominently featured Indian art as it was largely decorated by the American artist, Lockwood de Forest (1850-1932), who is best known for his role in the introduction of Indian art to America and Britain.
This object has the following keywords:
- bone - The rigid, calcareous material that is white in color and forms the skeleton of vertebrates; primarily composed of calcium hydroxyapatite with smaller amounts of calcium carbonate, calcium fluoride, magnesium phosphate, and ossein, a high molecular weight protein. Bones have a concentric structure with central lymphatic canals surrounded by a spongy lamellar region protected by a dense outer cortex. Bone has been carved and used since ancient times for many purposes, including fish-hooks, spear heads, needles, handles, and art objects. Bones were also burnt to produce bone black and boiled to produce bone glue. Bone can be distinguished from ivory by being generally whiter, more porous, and less dense.
- inlay - Any process by which small pieces of one material are inserted into a larger piece of another so as to create a design.
- ivory - The modified form of dentin derived from animal teeth. The most common example is from the tusks of mature elephants; similar material is obtained from any tusked or large-toothed mammal such as a walrus or narwhal.
- tabourets - Refers to low seats or stools, without back or arms, often used for a child or as a footstool. It was originally in the shape of a drum, thus the name (from the diminutive of the French "tambour," for drum). In the 18th century the term was applied to any low stool with fixed upright legs, as distinct from "pliants," which had folding crossed legs. 18th-century tabourets were rectangular, not drum-shaped, with upholstered seats. For similar seats supported on six or more legs, use "banquettes (benches)."
- wood - The principal tissue of trees and other plants that provides both strength and a means of conducting nutrients. Wood is one of the most versatile materials known.
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