These library-tables, with their laurel-crowned and altar-drum top, and altar-tripod pillar with laurel-wreathed palms and 'Apollo' griffin claws, serve to recall the triumph of the Art of Poetry.
This robust centre table form, in the French/antique manner, was introduced around 1800 by the connoisseur Thomas Hope (d. 1831), and inspired by the work of his friend Charles Percier, whose architectural work was popularised by his Recueil de Décorations Intérieures, 1801. The table's Grecian-black inlay recalls the 'Etruscan' Grecian style popularised by The Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1773; and by Baron d' Hancarville's publication of Sir William Hamilton's Collection of Etruscan, Greek and Roman Antiquities (Naples, 1766-67).
Hope may also have been assisted by his architect Charles Heathcote Tatham (d. 1842) in the invention of this form of 'round monopodium' table, which was introduced at his Adam-built Duchess Street mansion/museum, which he part furnished in 1801 with a collection of Sir William Hamilton's Grecian vases. Hope's mahogany table, was ebony-inlaid with an 'Egyptian' starred diadem in harmony with the pedestal of the statue of the dawn-deity Aurora, which embellished his Breakfast Room. In 1804 Hope invited visitors to see his art collections at Duchess Street, and published a guide entitled, Household Furniture and Interior Decoration Executed from Designs by Thomas Hope, 1807 (pl. 39). The table was also engraved by Henry Moses in service as a card or 'loo' table, but with variations in its inlay, and published in Hope's Designs of Modern Costume, 1812. An enlarged edition of the latter was reissued in 1823 as A series of twenty-nine designs of Modern Costume drawn and engraved by Henry Moses, Esq. Hope's original table may also be that featured, but without the pillar inlay, in a watercolour executed about 1818 of the Small Drawing Room of his Surrey villa, The Deepdene (J. Morley, Regency Design, 1790-1840, London, 1993, p. 226 pl. LV).
The execution of the present library-table reflects the influence of the Tenterden Street cabinet-maker, George Bullock (d. 1818), whose work was lauded in R. Ackermann's The Repository of Arts, 1816. Closely related wreaths were employed by the latter on the top of a table in 'bog oak from the Isle of Man' supplied to the Duke of Atholl at a cost of £21 (A. Coleridge, 'The work of George Bullock, cabinet-maker, in Scotland I', Connoissseur, April/May 1965, p. 250, fig. 2).
The present drum table relates to two in oak, sold anonymously at Christie's, London, 5 April 2001, lot 77, and at Christie's, New York, 14 April 1984, lot 169. A closely related mahogany library-table was sold at Sotheby's, London, 12 July 1963 lot 107, whilst a satinwood and ebony-inlaid drum library-table was in the possession of the antique dealer R.A. Lee in the 1940s (R.W. Symonds, 'Some Aspects of Regency Furniture', The Antique Collector, Sept-Oct., 1948, fig.9). A table corresponding to that illustrated at Duchess Street in 1807, is in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London (D. Watkin, Regency Furniture and Interior Decoration, London, 1971).
Frustratingly little is known of the late Wilfred Evill, other than as an ardent supporter both of Brighton Pavilion Furniture and of the Prince Regents' taste. A pioneering collector of Regency furniture, alongside Lord Gerald Wellesley and Edward Knoblock, his distinguished collection of Regency furniture was sold at Sotheby's, London, 12 July 1963. This latter sale included a writing-table sold from a Private Collection Boulle to Janesen, Christie's, London, 11 June 2003, lot 174.