THE EVOLUTION OF THE DESIGN
The table pattern, with central mask festooned with garlands suspended from the voluted trusses of canted herm legs, featured in an engraving of a sideboard-table designed in the 1730s by William Kent for Houghton Hall, Norfolk and published in Vardy's Some Designs of Mr. Inigo Jones and Mr. William Kent, 1744, pl. 41. A Flora mask featured on Kent's table designed in the 1730s for Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington's villa at Chiswick (ibid., pl. 40).
The golden frames, shaped as the marble slabs, have open-fretted friezes beneath foliated cornices and flowered ribbon-guilloche mouldings that tie acanthus-scrolled cartouches with the glory-rayed heads of the flower goddess Flora. Garlands of fruit and flowers, emblematic of peace and plenty, festoon the cartouches and are draped from the voluted trusses of the serpentined herm legs, whose sides are imbricated with pearled patterae. Husk-enriched leaves of Roman acanthus are tied to the legs and emerge from the involuted feet.
The tables have been water gilded twice. In some areas the second gilding, probably early 19th Century, is separated from the first by a thin skim of gesso. The original gilding and the second gilding is identical on both pairs of pier tables (lots 53 and 55) and their mirrors (lots 52 and 54).