John Pollen 1st bt. was granted a baronetcy by Pitt in 1795. He was a bencher of Lincoln’s Inn from 1802, where his son Sir John Walter, 2nd Bt (1784-1863) was also admitted. Both were commended by obituarists for assiduous performance of their duties as Hampshire magistrates. On the death of his father in 1814, Sir John Walter succeeded to the baronetcy and to the Redenham Estate that had belonged to his maternal grandfather, Walter Holt of Redenham House. He bought the neighbouring manor of Fyfield the same year and made further additions to the property by later purchases. The Redenham Estate comprised the Manor of Fyfield as well as land in Fyfield, Thruxton, Kimpton and Andover.
Redenham House was described in 1859 as ‘a large mansion, pleasantly situated in a finely wooded park of about 120 acres, near the borders of Wiltshire’. In July 1908 Sir Richard Hungerford Pollen, 4th bt., sold the property, which is now divided into many smaller holdings. ('Parishes: Fyfield', A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 4 (1911), pp. 366-369).
With its impeccable lines, remarkable proportions and quality of execution, this elegant table-à-écrire is characteristic of the oeuvre of Jean-Henri Riesener, maître in 1768. It is closely related to the models executed by the celebrated ébéniste for the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne between 1775 and 1785.
This group of exclusively Royal tables culminated in Marie-Antoinette's sublime writing-table now at Waddesdon (G. de Bellaigue, The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor Furniture Clocks Gilt Bronzes, Fribourg, 1974, II, no.106, pp.504-509); it also includes the closely related table supplied by Riesener in 1781 for Marie-Antionette’s cabinet at the château de Marly, now in the Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon (M. I. Pereira Coutinho, 18th Century French Furniture, Lisbon, 1999, no.23, pp. 223-227).
The distinctive upswept and fluted leaf design to the frieze - a perennial feature in Riesener’s oeuvre - can be found on many examples by the celebrated ébéniste; it appears on a closely related table-à-écrire featured in a portrait of Riesener himself by Antoine Vestier circa 1786. The latter table is believed to be the same as that formerly in the collection of Baron Meyer de Rothschild at Mentmore Towers, and later sold from the Dimitri Mavromatis Collection, Sotheby’s, London, 8 July 2008, lot 25.
It is interesting to note that most of the signature constructional features in Riesener's oeuvre are found on the present table-à-écrire: an all-around impeccable construction, use of finest chêne de Hongrie or de Hollande as the constructional timber of choice, and distinctive chamfer to underside of drawers.