This mahogany side table relates closely to designs for 'Sideboard Tables' illustrated in the first edition of Thomas Chippendale's (d.1779) The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director (1754). The basic pattern, a sober table, with square chamfered legs and almost entirely free of embellishment save for pierced angle brackets, is published as plate XXXV. The following plates depict increasingly elaborate tables, with blind and pierced fret decoration in the Chinese or 'Gothic' taste (plates XXXVI - XXXIX), some with friezes centred by foliate cartouches as in the present lot. The Director also includes the same pattern of Chinese fret featured in the stand for a 'China Case' (plate CIX). The black and gold veined portor marble originates from quarries in Italy and Corsica, and also locally in France, the name 'portor' undoubtedly deriving from the town of Porto Venere on the Genoese coast where Louis XIV exploited quarries for the decoration of Versailles. The marble was popular in the 17th and 18th centuries for furniture, decorative art and chimneypieces, and notably featured on a side table at Longleat, Wiltshire, which was probably supplied around 1735 (sold Christie's, London, Furniture, Silver and Porcelain from Longleat, 13 June 2002, lot 337, £92,450 including premium).
The table was formerly in the collection of Sir Humphrey Sturt II (d. 1786), at Crichel, Dorset (whose other properties included Horton, Brownsea Castle, Grange and Cliffe). Crichel was the subject of articles by H. Avray Tipping, 'Crichel, Dorset, I-III', Country Life, 16-30 May 1925, pp.766-774, 814-823, and 874-881 and an unpublished photograh from this time shows the table located in The Library. By tradition it had originally been at, and presumably supplied for, Horton, Dorset, Sir Humphrey's childhood home in the parish adjoining Crichel in 1758, where it was listed in an untraced inventory of 1758. The manor house at Horton was acquired by the Sturt family in 1718, but Sir Humphrey appears to have sold a lease on Horton on 11 August 1762, and when he inherited the more substantial property at Crichel in 1765 from Sir Gerard Napier, 6th Baronet, he made a permanent move to the larger house, spending a significant portion of his wealth on refurbishments of Crichel, and leaving Horton to neglect. It is almost certain that the table, an important family heirloom, was moved to Crichel at this time.
The table is illustrated in P. Macquoid and R. Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, London, 1954, vol. III, p. 292, fig. 51. Comparable tables include a pair of giltwood console tables with almost identical pierced fretwork from Warter Priory, Yorkshire, sold Henry Spencer & Sons, 11-13 March 1969, lot 1042, while Chippendale 'Sideboard Tables' comparable with plate XXXIX from the Director sold Sotheby's, New York, 22 October 2004, lot 468 for $276,800 (including premium), and Christie's New York, 24 November 1998, lot 65, for $332,500 (including premium).