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Larios newly restored antique furniture back at the City Hall

A unique piece of antique furniture, a mirrored sideboard belonging to the Larios family, has been restored and is now on view at the City Hall in the Mario Finlayson National Art Gallery.

The restoration was commissioned by the Department of Environment and Heritage after the piece was discovered in a private property in Main Street and the new owner kindly donated it to the Government via the Gibraltar Heritage Trust who were instrumental in liaising with the developers in the build up to the conservation work.

The Larios family, one of the most influential families in Gibraltar’s history, once owned this ornate mirrored sideboard dating from the late 1800’s and which once adorned the dining room on the first floor of the City Hall when it was the property of the family.

The piece has been restored by Robert Sanguinetti and has taken three months to complete.

Heritage Minister John Cortes described this mirrored sideboard as a “work of art”. In reference to Gibraltar’s rich heritage he commented on how “sometimes it turns up in unexpected corners in unexpected ways”.

“I am so pleased that it has been so expertly restored and found its place back home in a place where it can be seen and enjoyed by all,” he added.

For his part at the unveiling this week at the City, Chairman of the Gibraltar Heritage Trust, spoke of what could be achieved when groups and entities work together to help preserve something worth preserving.

“It is important that we all work together like we have done for this antique piece from a previous generation so that people can admire it once restored for many more generations to come,” he said.

This sideboard is carved from walnut wood in the Victorian Rococo style (also known as Late Baroque) which was highly in fashion into the 1870s. Highly embellished furniture from this period often features themes inspired from nature such as fruits, seeds and nuts as well as Greek inspired imagery – in this case goddess-like carvings on the posts and ornamental urn finials along the top.

It is likely that this piece was made to order by a cabinet maker in nearby Spain where Walnut Wood is easily available.

The monogram ‘PL’ on the shield centre, at the top of the piece confirms ownership of this statement piece by Pablo Larios himself.

The City Hall, was originally constructed in 1815 by one of the Rock’ leading merchants, Aaron Cardozo. Over the years the building changed hands a couple of times, being occupied by the Gibraltar Garrison Club in 1833 and becoming the Club Hotel from 1839 until 1875. It was then purchased by Pablo Antonio Larios y Tashara, one of the leading business men and property owners of the City. He was the scion of an old Castilian family who had acquired a right of residence in Gibraltar.

Larios carried out an in-depth renovation and refurbishment of his new acquisition with a new storey being added along the west face of the building, crowned with a white marble balustrade. There was extensive refurbishment, which included the dining room, situated to the south of the building.

The main features of this room were the fireplace with panels of carved alabaster and this massive richly-carved sideboard. This sideboard was subsequently moved to other premises and re-discovered years later in a private property in Main Street.