Scagliola Table Tops

Our experience of restoring and conserving scagliola table tops provides the perfect level of intricacy and creativity to maintain the vibrancy and quality of the finish.

Since the end of the 16th century, scagliola has been used to make inlaid tabletops, wall panels and altar pieces. Initially, colourful and elegant designs were inlaid into a plain background, usually black, in imitation of Roman and Florentine hardstone mosaic work (Pietre Dure). As fashions changed, more complex trompe l’oeil and pictorial schemes appeared, much sought after by the British grand tourists of the 18th century.

After encountering the material during his own grand tour, Robert Adam went on to design tabletops and chimney-pieces that used scagliola to create delicate neo-classical inlays in white marble, sometimes known as Bossi-work after the Dublin scagliolist of that name.

The tabletop shown here is based on an altar piece from a small church above Lake Como in Italy, dating from around 1670. The maker used scagliola versions of marble and semi-precious stones to create the inlays. The design is typical of the period, and the choice of colours and flowers has symbolic as well as aesthetic significance.

Hayles and Howe has been commissioned to make several inlaid scagliola tabletops, working closely with designers and architects. A variety of skills are involved in the manufacture of one of these unique objects, including draughtsmanship, carving and very accurate colour matching. The work is painstaking and demands significant patience and attention to detail, but the results speak for themselves.

Hayles and Howe also have considerable experience of restoring and conserving inlaid scagliola for private clients and the antiques market. As with all restoration and conservation work, Hayles and Howe are happy to advise on a range of approaches.