This golden sideboard-table, with basket-enriched frame, evokes poetic accounts of the mythical banquets of the gods. It is designed in the George II Romano-British fashion promoted by the Rome-trained artist, book-illustrator and court architect William Kent (d. 1748) through the patronage of the connoisseur Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington. Its antique-fluted, acanthus-wrapped and triumphal-arched frame, intended with a marble wine-cistern underneath, would have been dressed with desert fruit. Appropriately its columnar corners comprise reeded baskets that recall a Golden Age when nature's abundance was harvested by the nymph companions of the bacchic satyrs; while their lozenged weave recalls the mosaiced ornament of Rome's Temple dedicated to the nature deity Venus. Jupiter's sacred oak festoons the truss-scrolled pilasters, which are hung with the harvest deity Ceres sacrificial libation paterae (plates) and scale-imbricated to recall the dolphin attendants at the triumphal water-birth of Venus. The deity's carriage shell badge labels the table's lambrequin cartouche, which displays the caryatic head of a basket-bearing nymph.
Kent introduced related ornament associated with Bacchus and Ceres in his 1731 design for a Houghton sideboard frame for a water-blue marble table of lapis lazuli (J. Vardy, Some Designs of Mr. Inigo Jones and Mr. William Kent, 1744, pl.41; and A. Moore, Houghton Hall, London, 1996, no.47). Displaying the same shallow proportions, the table is recorded at Houghton by 1747 in Aedes Walpolianae: 'One Fineared Table of Lapis Lazuli'.
While Kent derived the Roman truss brackets from inventions of Inigo Jones (d. 1652), the caryatid head can be related to that of a 1652 engraving of a Giulio Romano sphinx-supported table, which inspired the design of sideboard executed by Kent's colleague John Vardy (J. Friedman, Spencer House, London, 1993). The present table likewise corresponds to Kent's decoration introduced around 1731 at the Roman style villa of Wanstead, Essex which was being embellished by Richard Child (d. 1753) at the time of his elevation in George II's peerage as Earl Tylney of Castlemain. In particular it relates to a marble mantelpiece, with caryatic truss pilasters of basket-bearing nymphs, that is likely to have been designed for Wanstead's banqueting room (W. Chambers' sketch is illustrated M. Snodin, Sir William Chambers; Victoria & Albert Museum Drawings, London, 1996, pl. 28). It was for such a room that this table would have been supplied. The basket motif, used in celebration of the origin of the Corinthian order of Architecture, was also adopted for sideboard-tables designed for Lord Burlington's villa at Chiswick and later listed in 1770 in Chiswick's Crimson Velvet Room as Two fine Marble Tables [slabs] with brass Moldings on Gilt frames, as well as on a pair of tables from Luttrelstown Castle, Co. Dublin (sold by Mrs. Aileen Plunket, Christie's House sale, 26-28 September 1983, lot 42).
The distinctive imbricated and swagged legs, similarly, are shared with those on the celebrated suite of four tables in the Double Cube Room at Wilton House, Wiltshire - which are recorded there in 18th Century inventories. Amusingly much of the Kentian furniture in the Double Cube Room at Wilton was originally supplied to Wanstead.
A wider table of this pattern, possibly originally forming part of the same commission, was in the Lapham collection, New York, and was illustrated in American House and Garden, March 1988.