This exotic padouk writing-table with 'boulle'-inspired carved enrichment can be confidently attributed to John Channon (d.1779). An Exeter cabinet-maker who is recorded working in London at 109 St. Martin's Lane from 1737, Channon is celebrated for a remarkable group of case-furniture, which features engraved brass inlay, elaborate rococo mounts and sinuous outlines, often employing exotic woods such as padouk and inspired by Continental prototypes. This group shares similarities in construction, decoration and mounts with a spectacular pair of padouk bookcases with Brain-inspired brass inlay at Powderham Castle, Devon which bear brass tablets engraved 'J Channon Fecit 1740' (see C.Gilbert and T.Murdoch, op. cit., pl.XXIII). The Powderham bookcases are the only signed or labelled pieces by Channon. Another masterpiece by Channon, unsigned but firmly attributed, is the celebrated 'Fonthill Splendens' dressing commode supplied, together with its pair, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, to William Beckford, which was sold by the late Michael Behrens Esq. for a record price at Christie's London 6 July 1989, lot 163 and was for many years the most expensive piece of English furniture sold at auction.
The legs of this table are carved in the manner of French-fashioned brass enrichments with Roman-acanthus cartouches displaying plume-helmeted Mars heads on palm-wrapped and flower-trellised brackets and accompanied by triumphal Venus shells. This fashion for 'boulle' design was inspired by Continental prototypes and a wealth of Continental design sources were certainly available to London cabinet-makers, including Gaetano Brunetti's Sixty Different Sorts of Ornaments published in London in 1736, and P.Babel's A New Book of Ornaments (1752). The leg ornament itself, however, derives from designs in B.Toro's Masks and other Ornaments published in London in 1745 (E.White, ed., Pictorial Dictionary of British 18th Century Furniture Design, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1990, p.399, pl.5). These distinctive warrior-mask mounts and foliate lion-paw feet also feature on a closely related writing-table, also given to Channon, formerly in the possession of Leonard Knight (C.Gilbert and T.Murdoch, op.cit, p.83, pl.85-86), whilst their exact profile and form are also displayed by the bronze mounts which enrich the cabinet-on-stand by Channon now at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery (ibid, pl.XIX and fig.118).