The pattern for this imposing side table derives from designs published in 1739 by the architect and designer William Jones in The Gentlemen’s or Builders Companion containing Variety of useful Designs for Doors, Gateways, Peers, Chimney-Pieces etc, which featured original designs showing the influence of William Kent’s Palladianism while anticipating the curves and lighter forms of the Rococo. Among features promoted by Jones was the hairy paw foot, which was fashionable for only a short time, and indeed Jones’s designs were almost entirely superseded in the 1740s by the publication of pattern books devoted almost entirely to the asymmetrical forms of the Rococo.
The Greek key ornament was a favoured architectural motif that appears in the designs of both Inigo Jones and William Kent - it featured on Kent’s 1744 design for a pedestal table at Chiswick House (see P. Ward Jackson, English Furniture Designs of the Eighteenth Century, London, 1958, pl. 15). Other tables that display the combination of Greek key frieze and hairy paw feet include most notably the mahogany side tables supplied for Langley Park, Norfolk, built in the early 1740s for George Proctor (d. 1744), the furnishing completed by his nephew Sir William Beauchamp-Proctor (d. 1777). A pair of Langley Park tables was sold Christie’s, London, 6 July 1995, lot 100 (£452,500 including premium). Another similar table was formerly in the collection of Sir John H. Ward (d. 1938) at Dudley House, London (sold Christie’s, New York, 18 October 2001, lot 225, $64,625 including premium) and another sold from the Tom Devenish Collection, Sotheby’s, New York, 24 April 2008, lot 45, ($121,000 including premium). A giltwood centre table with Greek key frieze and hairy paw feet was supplied around 1725 to Penshurst Place for the display of an imported inlaid marble slab (R. Edwards, The Shorter Dictionary of English Furniture, Feltham, 1964, p. 608 and fig. 18).
An unusual feature of the table offered here is the manner in which the bold rockwork scrolls wrap the angles of the frieze giving an impression of great solidity. A similar form was employed on the giltwood tables supplied for Stowe, Buckinghamshire, around 1730-40 (A. Bowett, Early Georgian Furniture, Woodbridge, 2009, pp. 214-215, pl. 5:28) while a walnut writing or dressing-table of circa 1730 in the Noel Terry collection features legs of a similar style (The Noel Terry Collection of Furniture & Clocks, York, 1987, p. 101, pl. 100). Furthermore, the table is made of walnut, unusually at a time when mahogany had supplanted walnut as the first choice of timber for cabinet-makers. Yet important pieces were still being made in walnut, such as the pair of walnut side tables supplied by John Vardy around 1740 to the 5th Duke of Bolton for Hackwood Park, Hampshire (sold by The Lord Bolton, Christie’s, London, 5 December 1991, lot 248, £319,000 including premium).