Perhaps the most frequent and evocative Hadrianic sculptures are those of the Emperor's young Bithynian companion Antinous. Versions of his form were disseminated throughout the Empire, and it is after one of these that the uprights of this remarkable pair of side tables are modeled.
Little is known about Antinous who became the Emperor's constant companion and who drowned in the Nile in AD 130. He was buried in Rome with all the pomp reserved for a demigod and his funerary monument was surmounted by an Egyptian-style obelisk as if the grief-stricken Hadrian wished to immortalize Antinous as an Egyptian God.
During the 18th century, Antinous continued to be reproduced in a variety of different sizes and materials and was as popular with artists of all persuasions as with collectors and connoisseurs. The earliest recorded piece of furniture incorporating the figure of Antinous was a side table with polychrome-decorated Antinous-form uprights and specimen marble top. It appeared in a portrait dated 1777 by Laurent Pécheux of Marchesa Margherita Gentili Boccapaduli. Other tables of this form include one in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence, illustrated in González-Palacios, Il Tempio del Gusto: Roma e il Regne delle Due Sicilie, Milan, 1986, vol. II, fig. 243 and another recently sold, Anonymous Sale, Christie's New York, 30 March 1999, lot 280.