This spectacular table can be attributed to the Royal cabinet-makers Morel and Seddon based on close similarities to furniture supplied to George IV as part of the Windsor Castle commission. Most notably, the inlaid pattern to the top conforms precisely to that on two amboyna center tables supplied for the magnificent Crimson Drawing Room at Windsor (see H. Roberts, For the King's Pleasure: The Furnishing and Decoration of George IV's Apartments at Windsor Castle, London, 2001, pp. 82 and 92, figs. 83-84). The 'buhl' inlay on the Windsor tables (no. 71 in the Account Book) is executed in mother-of-pearl and brass on a tortoiseshell ground and the same pattern also appears on two sofa tables (nos. 88 and 123) for the Crimson Drawing Room and Small Drawing Room, respectively (ibid., p. 97, figs. 95-96 for the illustration of one). Other striking similarities to the Windsor center tables include the use of amboyna, the richly chased ormolu rim, distinctive concave frieze and the giltwood base comprising a central stem surrounded by four further supports. The 'cove frieze' and closely related central stem also feature on further circular tables in the Small Drawing Room (nos. 213 and 215, ibid., p. 134, figs. 154-155). Some of the bedroom apartment furniture at Windsor exhibits the use of bird's eye maple with French-inspired inlaid ornament (ibid., pp. 309-311).
MOREL AND SEDDON: THE ROYAL COMMISSION AT WINDSOR CASTLE
In the 1820s, George IV set about the enormous task of recontructing and refurbishing Windsor Castle. A consummate builder, the King engaged architect Sir Jeffrey Wyattville and cabinet-makers Morel and Seddon for the task. Working as decorators, such as Guillaume Gaubert and later Dominique Daguerre had done at Carlton House, Nicholas Morel and George Seddon were directly responsible to the King who took an active interest in the project. A series of seventy drawings showing the proposed schemes of decoration in many cases bear the King's annotations and approval ('appvd'). The drawings were sold Sotheby's, London, 9 April 1970.
Nicholas Morel won the commission to furnish the Royal apartments at Windsor Castle in 1826, chosen personally by the King. He had worked for George IV as Prince of Wales at both Brighton Pavilion and Carlton House as early as 1795 and earned the title 'Upholder Extraordinary' to the Prince of Wales by 1807. Morel worked in partnership with Hughes from 1810-1812 at Carlton House. It has been suggested that he went into partnership with George Seddon as he needed the services of a large firm with the capacity to complete the Windsor Castle commission; the Seddon workshops in Aldergate Street were used to manufacturing furniture for Windsor. Ever the Francophile, George IV directed Morel to travel to France to execute patterns and drawings of furniture. Seddon performed the business functions for the firm (G. de Bellaigue and P. Kirkham, 'George IV and the Furnishing of Windsor Castle', Furniture History, 1972, pp.1-9).
Apart from a sizable £15,000 commission by the Marquess of Stafford for Stafford House (now Lancaster House) in 1830, the firm appears to have largely dedicated themselves to Royal commissions at Windsor as well as other Royal palaces and houses (The Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840, pp. 796-797).
A few pieces from the 1828 Windsor commission have either moved or left the collection entirely. Among those pieces that are presently untraced is 'a large circular table of fine amboyna wood with handsome border of various woods inlaid'. However, this is supported on a mask-enriched base (no. 1002, see Roberts, op. cit., p. 329). A close inspection of the Account Book entries at Windsor in Hugh Roberts' book does not reveal a table that corresponds to this example. A pair of Windsor bedside cupboards was sold from The Doris Duke Collection, Christie's, New York, 3-5 June 2004, lot 682.
When the table was purchased by the present owner some years back it was said to have come from the Royal residence of Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. This tradition is particularly interesting given the Windsor table similarities. It is problematic identifying Osborne House furniture given that much of it was removed or rearranged in the late nineteenth century; pieces were also moved to Sandringham at this time, some of it following the Queen's death (E. T. Joy, 'Holland & Sons and the Furniture of Osborne House', The Magazine Antiques, April 1971, p. 583).
Osborne was built by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1845 as a place by the sea where they could retire in seclusion in the summer months. They employed Ludwig Gruner from Dresden as their 'advisor in art'. Holland and Sons, working to the designs of Henry Whitaker, were the principal suppliers to Osborne, appearing in the account books for 1850-1851 (which covered furniture supplied in the 1840s) (ibid., pp. 580-585). Other Royal cabinet-makers involved in the furnishing and decoration of the Royal residences at this time included Thomas Banting, Edward Bailey, William Francis, and notably T. and G. Sedddon. In 1831, Morel's name disappeared from Seddon's accounts and George and Thomas Seddon, having moved to Grays Inn Road, received the Royal warrant from 1832.
Osborne House was given to the nation by Edward VII shortly after the death of Queen Victoria in 1901.
The drawing-room circular 'loo' table is conceived in the George IV French/antique or Louis Quatorze manner with its top of richly figured wood inlaid with a ribbon-guilloche of acanthus flowered with palms and laurel and an outer Grecian-black ribbon-band. Evoking an altar in celebration of Apollo and poetry's triumph, the ormolu-enriched cornice of the hollowed frieze is gadrooned with palm-flowered flutes, while its base is enwreathed by ribboned laurels. Its golden pillar, likewise wreathed by palms and laurels, is supported on a hollow-sided altar plinth and accompanied by four trussed and acanthus-wrapped pillars with palms flowering their volutes.