By Suzy Parker
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a sideboard is “a piece of dining-room furniture having compartments and shelves for articles of table service.” 1
Situated within the dining room of Andalusia’s original 1850s foundation is a massive sideboard, standing approximately 7.5 feet high, 5 feet long, 1.75 feet wide and unique in its intrinsic nature of design. Fitted with a blended slab of off-pink marble, displaying a massive crack in the middle of it. Ornately carved into the center of the sideboard is a hog, shrouded by a bed of leaves and acorns while hanging by its hamstring—presumably for a feast.
Given the supporting details surrounding pig, that being the Bellota acorns and leaves, the sideboard depicts an Iberico hog. Native to the Iberian Peninsula, this domestic pig was primarily bred in Spain up until the middle of the 20th century. Famously these pigs are fed a strict diet of Bellota acorns and can typically only ever be found in Spain and Portugal.2
As a student-docent here at Andalusia, I try to point this extremely interesting piece out when giving tours. Provided the uniqueness of/in Flannery O’Connor’s vison of the gothic genre, this sideboard is not a surprising fixture to be found within her home. However, this piece is rather an enigma as it predates the O’Connor’s residency inside the home; its origin being unknown.
Luckily, we have a set of bookcases that resemble the dining-room sideboard in style.
Within Book Reading Room at Andalusia, there are two iconic 1870 Eastlake Bookcases, a fixture Flannery obtained from her cousin Katy. Both the sideboard and the bookcases feature various high and low relief carvings in rectangular fashion (contrasting to the round edges of Victorian furniture), and are intrinsic to the natural material and intended use of the objects. The austere grandeur of these pieces allow them to be sturdy by design, making their functionality reliable, and finishing with bronze handles and keyholes for use.
Sir Charles Lock Eastlake (1836 – 1906) was a prominent British architect of the late 19th century, iconic for the style of his design and style featured throughout his famous book, “Hints on Household Taste.” In the preface of his book, Eastlake writes “…I have neither desired nor attempted in the following pages to do more than show my readers how they may furnish their homes in accordance with a sense of the picturesque which shall not interfere with modern notions of comfort and convenience.” (pgs. Vi-vii) Further throughout the book is a plethora of information regarding the design and manufacturing of furniture in the home, including the factors that ultimately became defining of the Eastlake style. Originally published in England in 1868, Eastlake’s work made its way to the United States by 1872, eventually reaching its peak popularity in the late 1870s
The Eastlake style places importance on functionality of the general design, with the practicality and durability in the use of said object being massively influential to it’s overall design. Unlike the dominant style of the era, the Eastlake design lacks the excessive high-relief carvings that define the Victorian style. The high-relief carvings so excessively featured in Victorian furniture were overall detrimental to the practicality and durability of the architectural design. For example, when a table lacks stability and wobbles due to the legs not having the structure to support their weight on top, it becomes inconvenient and rather uncomfortable in its use—this is what Charles Eastlake was avoiding in his designs.
Author Mary Jean Smith Madigan details the purpose behind the concept of design in an article on the Influence of Charles Eastlake on American Furniture. Writing “It expressed his view that furniture should be functional, nonostentatious, simple, and rectilinear in form, honestly constructed ‘without sham or pretense,’ and ornamented with respect for the intrinsic qualities of the wood as well as the intended uses of the furniture. Eastlake’s illustrations of well-designed furniture, which included several of his own sketches, showed a number of ornamental features including shallow carving, marquetry, incised or pierced geometric designs, rows of unturned spindles, brass strap hinges, bail handles, and keyhole escutcheons inspired by medieval forms, all used in decorative but functional ways.”
- 1:Sideboard Definition, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sideboard
- 2: Rosa Nieto, Juan García-Casco, Luis Lara, Patricia Palma-Granados, Mercedes Izquidero, Francisco Hernandez, Elena Dieuguez, Juan Luis Duarte, and Nina Batore-Lukač, “Chapter 9 Ibérico (Iberian Pig)” in European Local Pig Breeds – Diversity and Performance, A Study of Project Treasure
- 3: Joseph Aronson, The Encyclopedia of Furniture, Volume 10. (1965), 30,330,351.
- 4: Mary Jean Smith Madigan “The Influence of Charles Locke Eastlake on American Furniture Manufacture, 1870-89” Winterthur Portfolio, vol. 10.
- 5:Charles Eastlake, Hints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery, and other Details, 1869.
- 6: “Eastlake Furniture: History & Style”, Study.com, Accessed 08/31/2022.