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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Hawk History: Italian Neo-Renaissance library table

Italian Neo-Renaissance library table in the SJU Archives. PHOTO: KELLY SHANNON ’24/THE HAWK

One of the largest items in the St. Joe’s Archives Collection, located in the Drexel Library, is an Italian Neo-Renaissance library table.

Made of walnut wood with hand carved details, the table is 34 ½ inches tall and 74 inches wide. It includes carvings on the legs and trim depicting scrollwork, grotesques, birds, animal feet and human figures with four columns between the outer supports. Sculptings of women on the legs of the table flow into vines of lemons, and the feet of the table are shaped into the front of horses. 

The table, based on a sixteenth-century Florentine trestle table, was gifted by alumnus Thomas M. Foglietta ’49, who represented Pennsylvania in the House of Representatives from 1981 to 1997, and later served as United States ambassador to Italy from December 1997 to October 2001. Foglietta came into possession of the table during his years as an ambassador to Italy. 

Lesley Carey, university archivist, described Foglietta as an honest man who worked hard to make Philadelphia a good city.

“He gave a lot to [the university],” Carey said. 

Foglietta also donated a folding armchair and back stool, both made from walnut. 

“He also was an art collector, so I think these were actually furniture in his apartment,” Carey said.

In the sixteenth century, carved walnut furniture was highly coveted for use in decorating Florentine palaces. Foglietta had many connections in Italy that likely helped him secure these pieces, according to Carey. 

Foglietta has donated many of his prized art pieces, plaques and papers to St. Joe’s, Carey said.

The three-piece furniture set is scheduled to be moved to the Frances M. Maguire Art Museum, so it can be displayed more publicly to allow students to admire its fine craftsmanship, Carey said. 

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