The table's pole-screen pillar is likely to have been commissioned by John Russell, 4th Duke of Bedford (d.1771) for the Woburn apartments designed in the late 1740s by the architect Henry Flitcroft (d.1769).
Reed-tied Roman acanthus and watery scallops enrich its baluster pillar; while 'Venus' shell badges are ring-tied to foliated cartouches on the tripod feet, which terminate in Jupiter's eagle-claws.
Woburn Abbey's 1771 inventory lists the Blue Drawing Room's firescreen as being mounted on one such 'Pillar and [tripod] Claw'; while the Abbey still retains some George II shell-enriched parlour chairs, that are likely to have been amongst the furnishings introduced by the 4th Duke. Although Flitcroft's remodelling at Woburn in the 1750s involved numerous craftsmen, much of the carved mahogany and giltwood furniture was supplied by the firm of James Whittle (d. 1759) and Samuel Norman. The latter, who served as 'Sculptor and Carver' to George III, invoiced one of the pairs of Woburn pier glasses in 1760 (R. Edwards, 'Patrons of Taste and Sensibility', Apollo, December 1965, figs. 4 and 2).
This antiquarian table, which was probably created from its polescreen base in the early 19th century, has a 'marble' mosaiced top that depicts doves drinking from a tazza, and derives from the Vatican's celebrated antique mosaic, popularly named after the Roman author as 'Pliny's Doves'. The decoration of the top would no doubt have appealed to John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford (d.1839), following his 1814 visit to Rome, when he acquired the celebrated sculpture of the Three Graces by Canova, as well as numerous antiquities (M. Draper, 'The Collection of John, 6th Duke of Bedford', Country Life, 24 October, 1985, pp. 1240-1244).