The pier-tables are richly fretted in bas-relief with a Greek-key ribbon pattern in the Roman pavement fashion, as featured in B. Langley's, City and Country Builder's and Workman's Treasury of Designs, 1740 (pl. 97).
The tables formed part of the collection of Georgian furniture assembled by the celebrated photographer Sir Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) following his acquisition of Reddish House, Wiltshire.
CECIL BEATON, C.B.E. (1904-1980)
The style created by Beaton at Reddish and Ashcombe, Beaton's two beloved Wiltshire houses was described ingeniously by Richard Buckle in 'Du Côte de chez Beaton', his introduction to the Christie's catalogue of the sale of the contents of Reddish house. Was there ever a Beaton style, he asks? Ashcombe, his rented refuge from 1930-1945, blessedly tucked away in the folds of a valley, was a fantastical, theatrical place, the setting for Arcadian, rococo picnics. "Surrealism, popular art and the Marché aux puces played a part in its decoration. He sewed Pearly King buttons on curtains, ordered a bed with brass barley-sugar columns from a maker of circus roundabouts, picked up bits of nonsense in Vienna and Venice, painted everything White. Traditional mahogany was out. Certainly he was influenced by Rex Whistler, the supreme eighteenth-century pasticheur, by Oliver Messel, with his turbaned Venetian blackamoors, by Cocteau's poetic conceits, by Bérard's today-ness of perfect Parisian taste, by Syrie Maugham's 'débauches de blacheur." After this wild concoction, came the more restrained, sober merits of Reddish, with its burgundy velvet walls, rosy chintz curtains, Meissen vases, Louis XV and Louis XVI. Beaton was undeniably stylish, giving the critic Kenneth Tynan the impression, on arriving at a society party of 'an actor who has just made a superb exit; you would think that he had just come from some garish and exhausting rout on the floor above' (H. Vickers, Cecil Beaton, London, 1993, p. xvii). His photography, and in some ways his whole life, showed he was always open to fresh ideas and new approaches: he urged aspirant photographers to 'break every photographic rule ... a technical "failure" which shows some attempt at aesthetic expression is of infinitely more value than an uninspired "success" (C. Beaton, Photobiography, London, 1951, p. 183).