The distinctive conch-shell demi-medallion found on this table was inspired by J.B. Piranesi's Divers[e] Manners of Ornamenting Chimneys, 1769, which elaborated upon the beauty of testaceous forms used in Etruscan interiors. A small group of satinwood and marquetry furniture, all with remarkably similar medallions, has been identified as by or attributed to Charles Elliott, a London cabinetmaker and upholsterer. This group includes a pembroke table sold Christie's London, 4 July 1991, lot 147 (30,800), the present side table and another side table of this exact pattern. This table and its companion were probably originally commissioned as a pair, the companion illustrated in 'Charles Elliott, Royal Cabinet-Maker,' The Connoisseur, June 1959, p. 36, fig. 5.
These tables would have been supplied by Elliott to Captain William Tufnell as part of the decoration and furnishings of Langleys, Essex, after the latter had taken possession in 1793. The only surviving invoice from Elliott to Tufnell covers the period of June 1797 through February 1798 (reproduced ibid, p. 35-36, fig. 3-4). As no other bills for this commission have come to light, and as the back of this known invoice was inscribed by the patron, 'part of the furniture of the drawing room...' ("Documented Furniture at Langleys, Essex," Country Life, 7 August 1942, pp. 264-265.) it is likely that the tables were supplied to Tufnell between 1793 and 1797 and listed on an invoice now lost. Although neither side table is mentioned in this invoice, the survival of one side table in situ, and the traditional attribution of Langleys' satinwood and marquetry furniture to Elliott points to the pair of side tables as part of this large commission. A Gillows design for a pembroke table with a similar conch-decorated medallion, dated 1788 and reproduced here, further supports a dating of the Elliott group of satinwood and marquetry furniture to the 1790s.
Charles Elliott received royal appointments from 1783 to 1810 for which was paid a fixed quarterly salary of 157 10s. During this time, Elliott was engaged at the Houses of Parliment, the Queen's House (now Buckingham Palace), St. James's, Kew Palace, Kensington Palace and Newmarket Palace with repair work, the cleaning of furniture and of upholstery. In addition to this contracted work, he also received fixed amounts for providing and installing furniture, mirrors, upholstery and carpets. Elliott was listed at 97 New Bond Street until 1808, at which time he and his brother-in-law, William Frances, entered into partnership and listed their firm as Elliott & Francis at 104 New Bond Street (G. Beard and C. Gilbert, eds., The Dictionary of English Furniture: 1660-1840. Leeds, 1986, pp. 273-274).