Graceful and delicate, this tea table illustrates Philadelphia's nascent Rococo style of the late 1740s and early 1750s with details in its ornament suggesting the hand of Nicholas Bernard (d. 1789), one of the city's leading carvers during this early period. The undersize ball feet indicate it was made around mid-century, before the introduction of the larger and bolder archetypal Philadelphia claw-and-ball foot was introduced in about 1755. The distinctive intaglio carving embellishing the table's long rails bears a striking resemblance to designs attributed to Bernard by Luke Beckerdite and Alan Miller (Luke Beckerdite and Alan Miller, "A Table's Tale: Craft, Art, and Opportunity in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia," American Furniture 2004, ed. Luke Beckerdite (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 2004), pp. 4, 9-15, figs. 13, 15-18, 23, 25, 26).
Bernard's handiwork is further evident on the table's knee carving. The acanthus leaves on the knees are attenuated with elongated tips that fold over, an individualistic rendering that is also seen in the exuberant carving on the "Lambert" side chairs (see Beckerdite and Miller, p. 11, figs. 16-18; Christie's, New York, 19 January 2012, lot 111). The leaves on the pendant bellflowers are similarly protracted and with their spreading design, recall the work of Samuel Harding (d. 1758) who either trained Bernard or otherwise exerted influence over his style (Luke Beckerdite, "An Identity Crisis: Philadelphia and Baltimore Furniture Styles of the Mid Eighteenth Century," Shaping a National Culture: The Philadelphia Experience, 1750-1800, ed. Catherine E. Hutchins (Winterthur, Delaware, 1994), pp. 243-281).