The Coghill Centre Table with a Neo-Classical Ceramic Top

Early 19th Century.

Bearing a 19th Century hand written label stating that the table is from Sir John Coghill’s collection and describing the scene.

The table top is Italian, probably from the workshop of Giustiniani, Naples and the Goncarlo Alves base English, almost certainly created by a leading designer such as Thomas Hope.

The unidentified scene appears to represent Aphrodite, seated on rocks in a garden and accepting wine from a lover, possibly Adonis. The inspiration for this ceramic tour de force comes from the Apulian Red Figure vessels of the 5th and 4th Centuries BC.

The genius who designed the base not only created a vase central column to reflect the Coghill collection of ancient vases, but both with the palmette top edge moulding, the carved panel friezes on both the column and the triform base panels, mirrored the decoration on the ceramic top. Given the complexity and originality of the base it can only have been conceived by one of the leading architect designers of the early 19thCentury.

Measurements:  Height 27” (68.5cms)   Diameter 25.5” (65cms)

The Giustiniani factory was renowned for producing ceramics from 1600 through to the mid 19thCentury. Much of their output was inspired by the Greco-Roman decorative artefacts being unearthed at Pompeii.  Among their many important aristocratic commissions was the great Etruscan table service for the Duke of Martina which is now in the Naples Museum.

Sir John Coghill  (1766-1817)

Sir John was the second baronet and inherited the title and estates on the death of his father in 1790.  The family name was originally Cramer with strong Irish political roots.  Sir John changed his name to Coghill by Royal licence in 1807.   The family residence was Coghill Hall, Knaresborough, Yorkshire.    Sir John never married.    He latterly sold the family estates and retired abroad where he amassed an important collection of ancient Greek vases to rival that of Sir William Hamilton, British Envoy in Naples and renowned collector. Sir John acquired most of his collection from Giovanni Gherardo de Rossi and the Neopolitan collector M. Bonnet. He died in Caen, Normandy but his collections were brought back to England and sold in London by Christies in June 1819.  Most of the vases were purchased at the sale by Henry Englefield, Thomas Hope and Richard Payne Knight and now reside in many international museums.

The present table table was not included in that sale but was recently discovered in a private collection in Kent, England.

 Intriguingly, the reverse of the ceramic top may well hold clues to both the  designer of the base and the maker of the top.  However, we are reluctant to lift the veneer to remove the top as it appears to have never been disturbed.

Litt. James Millingen  Published by De Romanis 1817 Peintures Antiques de Vases Grecs de la Collection de Sir John Coghill Bart.

Our thanks to the Crown Office Scribe for analysing the handwriting on the label preserved on the underside of the table.





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