These majestic console tables are among the most spendid examples of William and Mary furniture executed in the Netherlands around 1700. Clearly conceived for a palatial setting and inspired by French prototypes introduced to the Netherlands by the celebrated architect and designer Daniel Marot (1661-1752), these tables are of impressive proportions accentuated by a sophisticated scheme of carved decoration.
They are part of a closely related group of giltwood tables, which include:
- A table in the collection of H.M. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands at Palace Huis ten Bosch near The Hague. This table is thought to have come from the palace at Honselaarsdijk. It incorporates a maiden seated on a camel in the apron, possibly an allegory of Asia, and may have been part of a set representing the Continents. It has slightly different carved ornament to the frieze and legs, which may be part of a 19th Century restoration (M. Loonstra, Het Huis int Bosch, Zutphen, 1985, p. 136).
- A pair of tables in the gallery of at Het Loo Palace near Apeldoorn (A. Vliegenthart, Het Loo Palace, Emmerich, 2002, p. 86, fig. 113). Similar to the table at Huis ten Bosch, these were aquired in the 1970s for the refurbishment of the palace. Marot had been involved in the renovation of het Loo for William III since 1686, and executed a design for a rectangular table with caryatid supports, together with a mirror and candlestand in 1700-'01, which is illustrated in R. Baarsen in Courts and Colonies, New York/Pittsburg, 1988-'89, p. 144, fig. 86.
- A table in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, which is again similar to the one at Huis ten Bosch and those at Het Loo. This table was acquired in the 1970s, and is also thought to have come from the palace at Honselaarsdijk.
- A pair of tables, in shape and decoration virtually identical to the present examples, which were sold from the collection of Comtesse Diane de Castellane, Sotheby's Monaco, 9 December 1995, lot 116 (to Didier Aaron). These tables share their unusual construction with the Saunders tables, which allows them to be entirely dismantled. This may have been to facilitate transport or a furniture-making novelty.
- A pair of tables, again extremely closely related to the present examples, but of rectangular form, which were sold anonymously, Christie's London, 5 July 1984, lot 44.
- The parcel-gilt and blue-painted table, reputedly executed by William Farnborough in 1692 for Queen Mary's Water gallery at Hampton Court. This table has the same deeply-curved shape as the present examples and closely related carved ornament to the pierced apron, which includes the characteristic domed roundel. This table was sold at Sotheby's London, 10 July 1998, lot 87 (£ 331,500).
This type of carved console table represents a new phase in Dutch furniture-making, which was greatly influenced by the designs of Daniel Marot. The protestant Marot, who fled north after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, was appointed as court dessinateur by King Stadholder William III and was largely responsible for the introduction of the Louis XIV court style to the Netherlands. His designs for architecture, gardens, interiors, but also for furniture and textiles, which were published in livres between 1703 and 1715, were instrumental for the dissemination of this style. The changes Marot introduced to Dutch interior design brought a sense of unity and harmony which hitherto had only been known in court circles in The Hague. His livres included designs for floorplans of townhouses, which were conceived as Paris hôtels. In these plans, great emphasis was given on the monumental proportions of the entrance hall and staircase, which gave access to the appartements (K. Ottenheym (ed.), Daniel Marot, Vormgever van deen deftig bestaan, Zutphen, 1988, pp. 9-38).
Marot's livres included various designs for tables following a French type, based on models by Charles Le Brun (1619-1690) and Jean I Berain (1640-1711), with legs in the form of herms or full caryatid figures. Carved side tables had existed in the Netherlands from the middle of the 17th Century, often of fluid auricular form and carved with flower garlands and cherubs. The models developed by Marot break away from this traditional Dutch ornament and introduced a fashion for architectural furniture thusfar unknown (R. Baarsen, op.cit., p. 21). While there is no immediate source for the 'Continent' series from the Royal Dutch palaces or the present tables, various ornaments derive from Marot's livres, such as the bold floral interlaced strapwork, flowerhead-filled trellis and husk trails, which derive from Marot's designs for elaborate headboards of tester beds (K. Ottenheym, op. cit., p. 77), or the characteristic domed roundel to central apron, which appears in a design for grotesque onament by Marot, which has been associated with a set of embroidered wall-hangings at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, thought to have been made for Hampton Court (B. Baarsen, op. cit, p. 106, no. 24).