This exceptional classical center table is among the finest known New York made tables extant. The variegated black marble top, known as "Egyptian Marble" during the period, was among the most expensive choices of the day. The elaborate and finely executed stenciling that embellishes the veneered and painted skirt and pedestal base survives in remarkable condition, as do the deeply carved and gilt foliate streamers above the vert antique lion's paw feet. The central turned drop of the base is composed of solid mahogany, which has been faux painted with rosewood graining, and gilt bronze rosettes adorn the scrolled supports.
Beyond the striking physical qualities of this rare table, its importance as a historical document is further heightened by the fact that it was apparently made for the Southern market, probably by the New York firm of Deming and Bulkley. This is supported by a number of factors, the most compelling of which is that this table (or one seemingly identical to this one) appears in an early interior photograph of the Miles Brewton House on King Street in Charleston, South Carolina. This house is widely regarded as among the most exceptional southern homes of the 18th century, and has been illustrated in numerous reference works (see for example Hurst and Prown, Southern Furniture (Williamsburg, 1997), p. 27). The interior photograph, circa 1900, with the classical table in the center of the parlour, appears in Wallace Nutting, Furniture Treasury (New York, 1928), figures 1054-58. At the time of the photo, the Brewton House was apparently owned by the Pringle Family of Charleston, a family known to have patronized Deming and Bulkley.
While a number of New Yorkers sent venture cargo to Charleston, it was the firm of Brazilia Deming (1781-1854) and Erastus Bulkley (1798-1872) that established New York City as the primary supplier of high style classical furniture to Charleston. Through documents and surviving examples of their furniture, this important commercial and cultural exchange has been documented in detail (see McInnis and Leath, "Beautiful Specimens, Elegant Patterns: New York Furniture for the Charleston Market, 1810-1840" in Beckerdite, ed., American Furniture (Chipstone Foundation, 1996), p. 137-174). After finding success with venture cargo, this firm established a retail storefront on King Street, where they continued to cater to the upper end of the furniture market, selling classical furniture to wealthy Charlestonians from 1818 into the 1840s.
Most of the surviving examples of their work are card tables, but a center table with an Egyptian marble top, fine stenciling, and carved feet closely in keeping with the present example was made for Governor Stephen D. Miller (1787-1838). Among other references to such center tables made by the firm is one in the extensive inventory of Hugh Swinton Ball, a known patron of Deming and Bulkley (McInnis and Leath, p. 153). Another related center table, part of a suite made for the New Yorker William Randall, is illustrated in Antiques (October 1975), p. 628. A pier table from this suite is illustrated and discussed in D'Ambrosio, Masterpieces of American Furniture from the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute (Utica, 1999), cat. no. 8.