Reference Entry


Sebastian Pryke

in Oxford Art Online

Published online January 2003 | e-ISBN: 9781884446054 | DOI:

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Type of furniture consisting of a flat top supported by legs, trestles or a pillar. The word is derived from the Latin for a board (tabula), and until the late 18th century it was used in this sense, describing only the horizontal top, the legs or support being considered a separate entity. Thus a marble table was simply the marble slab, its support being referred to as the frame. This is largely due to the fact that until the 16th century most movable tables were little more than planks of wood resting on trestles.

There are three distinct types of table: those raised on a single central pedestal, those with three or more legs supporting the top and those resting on trestles. The distinctions between these categories are sometimes blurred but are generally valid despite the introduction of man-made materials in the 20th century, which had a greater impact on furniture design than the developments of the previous 4000 years. It is also possible to divide tables into those that have a top of fixed dimensions and those that have a top which can be extended. There are many ways of enlarging tables, generally involving attached flaps or separately stored leaves, and from the end of the 18th century onwards many ingenious mechanisms were patented....

Reference Entry.  1526 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Professional Interior Design

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