These elegant silken-figured tables of golden satinwood are wreathed with flower garlands in the fashion introduced in the late 1770s by the Mayfair artist cabinet-maker George Brookshaw (d. 1823). Styled 'Peintre Ebéniste par Extraordinaire', he received the patronage of George, Prince of Wales, later George IV in the early 1780s (L. Wood, 'George Brookshaw (parts 1 & 2)', Apollo, May and June 1991). This pair of elliptic card-tables, with herm-tapered legs, formed part of the furnishings introduced to Ham House, Surrey in the mid-1780s by Lionel Tollemache, 5th Earl of Dysart and Countess Charlotte, a niece of the celebrated author Horace Walpole. Their decoration harmonised with some of Ham's magnificent antique furniture comprised of floral marquetry in the Louis Quatorze fashion. Broad silken ribbons banding their tops are executed in silvery grisaille and comprise meander trails of roses interspersed with passion-flower, honey-suckle, sweet-pea, jasmine, etc. In addition, flowered arabesque medallions feature in their friezes between satinwood medallions inlaid in ray-parquetried tablets. A pattern for an elliptical and medallioned table featured in the second edition of the Strand cabinet-maker Thomas Malton's, Compleat Treatise on Perspective, 1778 (pl. XXXIV, fig. 130); but this refined 1780s architectural style was not generally popularised until Messrs A. Hepplewhite & Co issued their, Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Guides in 1788 and 1794.
Brookshaw, who was to become celebrated as the author of Pomona Britannica, 1804, first exhibited the painted tables from his Curzon Street manufactory at the Free Society of Artists Exhibition held in 1780 at Pall Mall. (Catalogue p. 31). The later establishment of his 'Elegant Furniture and Upholstery Warehouse' which opened in Great Marlborough Street, was advertised in 1788.
The tables are illustrated in photographs of Ham's Green Drawing-Room, and the Volery Room, in H. Avray Tipping, English Homes, 1920, fig. 178, and this is reproduced in the present guide book to the house (C. Rowell et al. Ham House, London, 1995, p. 39). They bear the 1893 label of the carpenter Mr. Tiller, who carried out work for William Tollemache, 9th Earl of Dysart (d. 1935) following his inheritance of the estate in 1878 (P. Thornton, 'Ham House', Furniture History, 1908, pp. 191-193 and figs. 207 and 214).