The present table is an example of the marble table tops or 'slabs' that were acquired by English patrons on the Grand Tour in Italy and subsequently mounted on English bases. The technique of pietra dura, where marbles and precious stones are inset into a marble ground in pictorial or geometric patterns was introduced by the Medici workshop in Florence at the end of the sixteenth century and became popular with English collectors from the 1720s. The fashion for specimen marble inlays in the early 19th century is referred to by Peter and Michaelangelo Nicholson in their publication The Practical Cabinet-Maker of 1827 where they state 'the tops of tables are often beautifully ornamented with mosaic work'.
Centered by a medallion of Pliny’s doves within a rich polychromed mosaic of marbles and hardstones, the top is distinguished by its 'Etruscan' border of lozenge-fretted ribbon. The distinctive features of the top, particularly the arrangement of the specimen marbles and the geometric border, appear on a number of pieces attributed to the Roman workshop of Alfonso Cavamelli. Closely related to the present top is an example signed and dated 'Alfonso Cavamelli fece l'anno 1832 Roma' formerly in the collection of the marquis de Ravenel. Sold Christie's, London, 21-22 November 2007, lot 50 (£401,300), the top features a virtually identical trompe l'oeil boarder as well as similar radiating bands of specimen marbles. The same border and related classical medallion also appears on a table attributed to the Cavamelli workshops and sold Christie's New York, 22 May 2002, lot 364 ($83,650 including premium). Featuring a micro-mosaic 'Medusa-head' medallion and bordered by a red and orange ribboned band, the latter was once at the Château de Groussay, and formed part of the celebrated collection of Charles de Bestegui.