A new exhibition at the Carlton Hobbs gallery, On Tops: Table Tops from the 2nd Century to the 19th Century, offers a wonderful assortment of tables with some of the most precious and artistic tops ever assembled. Emphasizing extraordinary techniques and materials—from pietra dura (inlay of fine or hardstone) to micromosaic to scagliola (plasterwork in imitation of ornamental stone)—the inventiveness of design and remarkable craftsmanship these tops display have not only ensured their survival (though over time many have been paired with new bases), but also continued appreciation. And the effects are dazzling: the kaleidoscopic swirl of ancient mosaic glass fragments that top a gilt-wood gueridon; the rich interplay of pattern on a pair of neoclassical side tables topped with volcanic rock and marble specimens; or the elegant simplicity of an immense 90 x 71 inch Spanish cedar table top.
The exhibition of over twenty table tops remains on view through May 22, and all are for sale, with prices ranging from $84,000 to $1.6 million. We selected a few of our favorites, and asked Carlton Hobbs to tell us what makes each extraordinary.