This elegant library table typifies the high quality work of the Little Newport Street and Upper Marylebone Street cabinet-makers John McLean and Son (active 1770-1815). The table's design displays the distinct fusion of Grecian and Egyptian motifs with early 19th century Parisian fashion. The firm advertised that it specialized in 'Elegant Parisian Furniture' and many elements of the table have a clear French influence combined with English restraint. The table is made in Grecian black-figured rosewood; the preferred wood of the firm for its rich qualities and dramatic contrast to the gilded wood and metal mounts. The most dominant feature of the table's decoration is the lavish use of metalwork in cast and shaped brass - with ribbed 'Egyptian' striations. These tablets, previously popularized at the court of Louis XVI by the manufactures of the ébéniste David Roentgen, were a favoured ornament of the firm and are also found on the legs of two sofa tables illustrated in S. Redburn, 'John MacLean and Son', Furniture History, 1978, pls. 41A and B.
This sofa table was originally one of a pair - the other was sold anonymously at Christie's London, 24 April 2008, lot 416 (£14,900),
MCLEAN & SON
The first appearance of the name 'McLean' can be found on the south side of Little Newport Street, Leicester Square in June 1770, where a 'Jn. McLean' rented a 'Ho & workshops' until 1783. A trade card for the Newport Street Address advertises that he was a 'Cabinet, Chair Maker and Upholder'. From 1790 until the firm's demise in 1825, they are recorded at 55/58 Upper Marylebone Street and from circa 1799-1805, also in Pancrass Street. McLean and Son also gained a notable mention in Thomas Sheraton's Cabinet Dictionary in 1803. One of the 'fashionable Pieces of Cabinet Furniture' included a 'Pouch Table', whose design was taken and 'executed by Mr. M'Lean in Mary-le-bone street, near Tottenham court road, who finishes these small articles in the neatest manner'.