Since its inclusion in the definitive work on William and John Linnell (op. cit.), this tray-topped table has become one of the most celebrated examples of the tea-table, whose social importance in George II's reign was registered by its frequent inclusion in the 'Conversation' paintings of William Hogarth (d. 1764) and his contemporaries. At this period the tables, decked with porcelain equipages, were a feature of both bedroom apartments and the more formal parlours and withdrawing-rooms.
This mahogany table's carving, appropriate for the tea-ceremony, celebrates the triumphal water-birth of Venus, the Roman nature deity and companion of the Graces. Her scallop-shells grace the centres of tray's bubble-fretted rail, and are framed amongst Roman acanthus on the frame's apron, where they are ribbon-tied to palms that wrap the Ionic volutes of the truss-scrolled and pad-footed legs. The scallop-shell proved a popular embellishment for silver plate produced in the 1740s, such as the grand service provided by the court goldsmith, George Wickes (d. 1761) for the Earl of Kildare, later 1st Duke of Leinster (E. Barr, George Wickes, London, 1980, pp. 197-205).
Unlike the Chinese tea-tables that were imported by the East India Companies with separate trays, this tray and stand are united, as appears to be the case with the design for a related table, featured in the sketch books of the firm of Berkeley Square cabinet-makers, William and John Linnell (Howard and Kirkham, op. cit., vol. I, p. 78 and vol. II, p. 139, fig. 272).