This elegant pair of pier tables are almost certainly the work of the Dublin cabinet-maker William Moore (d.1815), thought to be "[B]y far the most important cabinet-maker who reflected the new taste for Neo-Classicism and the Adam style" (Glin and J. Peill, Irish Furniture, New Haven, 2007, p162). Though Moore's early life remains largely unsubstantiated, he was employed for a significant period in the workshops of the eminent London cabinet-making firm Mayhew and Ince before establishing his workshop on Abbey Street in 1779. Moore later moved to new premises on Capel Street in 1792 where he remained until his death in 1815.
Moore touted the cabinet-making skills from his London training in a 1782 advertisement in the Dublin Evening Post. He mentions "[P]ier tables, he has just finished in the newest taste a great variety of patterns, sizes and prices and hopes from his long experience at Messrs Mayhew and Ince, London, his remarkable fine coloured woods and elegant finished work." (G. Beard and C. Gilbert, The Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1680-1840, Leeds, 1986, p.622). That same year, Moore supplied a commode to the third Duke of Portland who had been made Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. The commode was presumably sent to his principal seat, Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire, where it was subsequently recorded in the collection of the Dukes of Portland (W.A. Thorpe, "William Moore, Inlayer," Country Life, 3 May 1946, p.806, fig.1).
The Portland commode, the only documented piece of furniture by William Moore, serves as a template for all subsequent attributions to his workshop. It's elongated elliptical form, the half fan inlay, naturalistic floral marquetry and in particular, a frieze with a pattern of alternating ribbon-tied urns and anthemia joined by husk swags appear throughout a group of pier tables and commodes which include the present lot. Not surprisingly, these design elements owe a considerable debt to Moore's training with Mayhew and Ince, and occur in identical or closely related formats in furniture attributed or documented to their workshops.
In addition to the Portland commode, this pair of pier tables shares many motifs with other work attributed to Moore. Intriguingly, a pair of pier tables in the collection of the Cooper Hewitt Museum and a single example in the National Museum of Ireland also share the same idiosyncratic construction of their friezes which employ many narrow blocks of pine at slight angles that give the impression of a woven basket (Glin and Peill, p. 164-5, figs. 223 and 225). Other closely related or nearly identical examples include:
--a pair of pier tables, sold anonymously, Sotheby's, London, 2 June 1995, lot 19.
--a pair of pier tables and a pair of demilune commodes, sold from a New York collection, Sotheby's, London, 27-28 June 1974, lots 142 and 144.
--a commode in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, illustrated in M. Tomlin, Victoria and Albert Museum Catalogue of Adam Period Furniture, London, 1972, p. 172.
--a pair of commodes sold by Lady Binning, Christie's, London, 11 July 1929, lot 39, one illustrated in Christie's Season 1929.
--a single commode, illustrated in R.Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, vol. II, Suffolk, 1954, p. 122 fig 132.
--a pair of pier tables, illustrated in L. Morton, Partridge Recent Acquisitions 1996, no.23.