The beautiful Sicilian Jasper slab is quarter veneered creating a central lozenged compartment. The design of this console-table frame relates extremely closely to that of a four-legged side table supplied in the 1740s for Kirtlington Park, Oxfordshire.
THE KIRTLINGTON PARK SIDEBOARD TABLE, NOW IN THE ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM, TORONTO
Appropriate for the display of food, the Kirtlington Park sideboard-table with serpentined and garden-trellised frieze, displays a cartouched trophy celebrating 'The Triumph of the Chase'. The hunting trophy, tied by beribboned Roman acanthus, features the bow and quiver weapons and crescent-crowned head of the youthful Diana, celebrated in antiquity as the huntress and moon deity. Flower garlands and veil drapery recall the festive fertility deities Flora and Bacchus; while the cornice, gadrooned by antique-fluted reeds, is supported by serpentined legs comprised of voluted Pan herms, the Arcadian satyr-deity, terminating in hollow-scrolled trusses.
The Kirtlington sideboard-table was almost certainly commissioned by Sir James Dashwood, 2nd Bt. (d. 1779) for the dining-room of his Palladian villa, Kirtlington Park, Oxfordshire. Having consulted the architects James Gibbs (d. 1754) and Daniel Garret (d. 1753) in 1741, Sir James's 'New House' was executed by the architect William Smith (d. 1747) and first inhabited in 1746, although its dining-room was not completed until the late 1740s. It was designed by the architect John Sanderson (d. 1774), whose surviving room elevation provides various proposals for its rich stuccoed ceiling and walls and also includes appropriate decorative paintings. So it was intended that the hunter-god Apollo should appear in his sun-chariot in the centre of the ceiling; while the principle end wall featured a herm-enriched frame incorporating a mythological painting of bacchic figures celebrating beside a Pan herm (M. Snodin, Rococo, Art and Design in Hogarth's England, London, 1984, p. 189 and M4).
This room elevation can be seen as providing inspiration for the sideboard-table's satyr or Pan-hermed legs; as well as its head of Diana, Apollo's sister. In addition, its garlands and drapery harmonised with Sanderson's truss-pilastered chimneypiece, for which the artist John Wootton supplied an overmantel painting in 1748. The sideboard-table's robust carving and white paint also harmonised with the room's embellishments, that were executed by the Oxford stuccoist Thomas Roberts (d. 1771); while its veined white marble slab suited the white marble chimneypiece.
The design and execution of the sideboard-table, conceived in the George II French 'picturesque' manner, can be attributed to the carver and drawing-master Matthias Lock (d. 1765), whose ornamental engravings after the French fashion were to gain him contemporary recognition as England's 'best draftsman in that way'. Related tables featured in his pattern-book entitled Six Tables, 1746, whose publication succeeded his mirror patterns entitled Six Sconces, 1744. However the table's ornament relates in particular to the frontispiece for A New Drawing Book of Ornaments, Shields, Compartments, Masks. Drawn & Engrav'd by M. Lock. This frontispiece, which has also been dated to 1746, not only features trellised and acanthus-wrapped ribbon scrolls, but a bearded satyr or Pan head, and a puffing zephyr wind relating to the table's Diana head.
The table has been gilded three times. It was originally water gilded. This was then sanded down and the table was then thinly gessoed in some areas, sized and oil gilded. The third gilding was when the table was oil gilded over the existing gilding without first gessoing.