The umbrella stand, with galleried vase shelf and brass enrichments, has stylised flower enrichments reflecting the enthusiasm for 'Art botany' promoted by Christopher Dresser (d. 1904), the self-styled 'ornamentist', who contributed to Owen Jones's Grammar of Ornament 1856 and whose numerous publications included, Studies in Design 1874-6; Principles of Decorative Design, 1873; and Modern Ornamentation, 1886.
James Shoolbred and Company was located on Tottenham Court Road, a thriving centre for fashionable furniture shops from the 1860's. They created one of the first great department stores in London; their trade was diverse and they began producing furniture around 1870. They issued an important catalogue of the firm's work in 1876 and earned a Royal warrant in the mid-1880's. Their output encompassed all prevailing styles including Art Furniture, 'Old English' and 'Japanese' as is evident from the 1878 Paris Universal Exhibition in which they offered 'a very extensive selection of items' (E. Joy, ed, Pictorial Dictionary of British 19th Century Furniture Design, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1977, p. xxxvi). Much of the furniture they designed was influenced by the 'Aesthetic taste', popularised by Oscar Wilde and the architect E.W. Godwin.