The Duke's armorial bearings, displayed on this tray within a scalloped-edged tablet on an antique punched ground, are framed within flowered husk garlands tied by ribbon bows at the sides and suspended from paterae. This engraving reflects the neo-classical style introduced by King George III's architect Robert Adam (1728-1792), who had been responsible for the Duke's palatial residence, Northumberland House in the Strand. The paired feet are conceived in the manner of 'antique' sideboard table frames, such as the connoisseur Thomas Hope illustrated in his Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, 1807; whilst the naturalistic oak leaf and acorn handles can be found in similar forms in the Rundell's design book, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, almost certainly the work of Edward Hodges Bailey.
The tray formed part of the furnishings introduced in the early 1820s to Northumberland House, London following the 3rd Earl of Northumberland's further embellishment of Robert Adam's 1770s interiors, executed under the direction of the architect Thomas Cundy and the cabinet-makers and upholsterers, Messrs Morel & Hughes. In March 1825, the "splendid furniture lately executed for the Duke of Northumerland" was praised by Rudolph Ackermann in the The Repository of Arts. Walter Jackson was probably the most gifted of the early nineteenth century engravers and is known to have engraved silver for both King George III and the Prince Regent. His work is perhaps best shown on large silver-gilt trays which became popular at this time, such as the present lot, predominantly made by Benjamin and James Smith, Paul Storr and Philip Rundell and retailed by the Royal Goldsmiths. (See Charles Oman, English Engraved Silver 1150-1900, London, 1978, pp. 123-127) A larger tray ensuite to this pair was sold at Christie's London, 25 November 1992, lot 32. and is illustrated in J. Dinkel, The Royal Pavillion Brighton, London, 1989, opp. p. 12.