The focal point of the living room in the Williams Residence is the large circular coffee table. Situated near the middle of the pink and green room, the table—with its dark top, bleached bottom, and glittering gold accents—draws the eye of the visitor. The table was created in the 1940s in the shop of Leila Williams’s designer, Marc Antony, by combining two old objects to make a modern piece of furniture. The top of the table was originally part of a papier-mâché breakfast table. The tabletop, which was made in England around 1850, exhibits all the popular elements of Victorian design. Papier-mâché was a popular material used to make moveable household goods in the mid-nineteenth century, including wine coasters, trays, and breakfast tables. The lightweight pieces were decorated with gold leaf, mother of pearl inlay and painted scenes derived from popular artworks. The central scene on this tabletop shows a queen in renaissance clothing on horseback, surrounded by squires and hunting dogs. It is reminiscent of the popular 1840 romantic painting of Queen Victoria by Edwin Henry Landseer. Depictions of Victoria’s eight castles are featured on the outer rim of the tabletop. The base of the amalgam coffee table is an inverted Corinthian capital that came from a pair of cypress columns salvaged from a nineteenth-century house in New Orleans. The use of cypress is a reminder of the eighty thousand acres of cypress swamps that were the source of the Williamses’ lumber and oil fortunes. The Victorian tabletop and New Orleans capital, two nineteenth-century objects, were melded together to make a piece of twentieth-century furniture. As separate pieces, the papier-mâché tabletop and the cypress columns are reminders of wealth, art, and history, but together they create a modern form emblematic of preservation and mid-nineteenth century design.

Citation 1: 
between 1945 and 1949; papier mache, mother of pearl, gold leaf, cypress assembled in the shop of Marc Antony (New Orleans)
Citation 2: 
The L. Kemper and Leila Moore Williams Founders Collection
Accession #: 
72.18 WR
Lydia Blackmore, Decorative Arts Curator