Period & Style
This video was created for LaunchPad, a program of digital interpretive materials that supplement the viewing of works of art on display in the Art Institute of Chicago's galleries.
Folding tables were invented long before Ikea started selling them. This one, with its elaborately carved border on all four sides, was made in England over 250 years ago. It has a very unusual form. When not in use, the concertina support underneath was collapsed and the hinged leaf was folded down, allowing it to be placed against a wall. But to fully extend the table—it is six feet long and three-and-a-half feet wide—required at least three people: one to hold the hinged leaf and two others—one at each end—to move the back legs outward by pulling them just below the ornate ram's head. In the 18th century, the table's owners would have had servants to do this kind of work. In the 21st century, we have an animator do it virtually!