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rocaille

July 4th, 2007

Daniel Pontius

The scallop is one of my favorite ornamental motifs. As such; and using any chance I can get to amuse myself, I recently designed a simple upholstered headboard for a client based on the scallop to some success. A book I have on the subject is the seminal: The Scallop, Studies of a Shell and its Influences on Humankind. My favorite essay, A Symbol in Ancient Times, by Sir Mortimer Wheeler begins:

“The art of the classical world is strewn with scallop shells. Behind the gracious Aphrodite of Botticelli, borne lightly shoreward upon her Renaissance scallop, and behind the shell-hoods with which Queen Anne’s architects enriched the porches of our London houses, are a myriad scallop motifs in Hellenistic and Roman terra-cotta, metalwork, painting, and carving.”

In Botticelli’s, ‘The Birth of Venus,’ 1478 that Sir Mortimer references, Aphrodite rides in from the sea on a large scallop. She has been born from the foam and the testicles of Uranus after his son castrated him and threw them into the sea. If your starting there, how can it get any better? I love the scallop of the table that is stretched across the cabriole leg. It allows our eye to follow it down and up along the edge; along the graceful curve that is highlighted by a light worn gilt. Not to mention the reminscent egg shape of the table that helps to further our little narrative .

Bellini’s, Piemontese table with orginal marble top, 3850.

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