A PAIR OF WILLIAM IV MAHOGANY SIDE TABLES
Each wtih a shaped red granite top, with a bronze X-shaped back gallery, the plain moulded frieze above scrolling channelled legs headed by acanthus-carved ears, each foot on a slightly spreading square plinth, repairs to ears.
47½ in. (120.5 cm.) high; 79 in. (201 cm.) wide; 36¾ in. (93.5 cm.) deep (2)
Almost certainly supplied to the Hon. Robert Henry Clive (d.1854), for the Dining-Room (now the Drawing-Room) at Oakly Park, Shropshire, and by descent with the house to
The 3rd Earl of Plymouth, Oakly Park, sold in a house sale, 29 June - 1 July 1944, lot 188, £3.0.0 to Mrs. Rotton and by descent to her daughter
Lady Magnus-Allcroft ( +), sold Stokesay Court, Ludlow, Shropshire, Sotheby's house sale, 28 September 1994 (=1st day), lot 44 (the galleries not illustrated in the catalogue but reunited subsequently).
The handsome William IV mahogany sideboard-tables with granite and bronze-railed tops are almost certain to have been commissioned by the Hon. Robert Henry Clive (d. 1854) for Oakly Park, Shropshire in teh later 1830s. Their robust form harmonises with the Grecian architecture introduced to the house in 1836 by the celebrated architect and antiquarian Charles Robert Cockerell (d. 1863). They were originally placed in the Dining-Room, a 1760s room not altered by Cockerell, but their modern design would have served to update the decoration of the room, and compares with the scrolled sides of a Cockerell fireplace elsewhere in the house.
The aggrandisement of Oakly served to reflect the achievements of the heroic Lord Clive of India, Robert Henry Clive's grandfather. Its architecture also reflected the years that Cockerell had spent studying acchitecutre on classical soil. The work on this major commission had begun shortly after his planning of a splendid Waterloo mansion worthy of the Duke of Wellington, and the execution of designs of Edinburgh's Grecian walhalla memorial for the Napoleonic wars, known as the Scottish National Monument.
The grand massiveness of the granite table tops harmonises with the architecture, and epitomises Cockerell's belief in the Aristotelian definition of beauty as residing in 'magnitude and order' (Lord Aberdeen, An enquiry into the Principles of Beauty in Grecian Architecture, 1822).
Cockerell once wrote of his patron Robert Clive as being 'of modern school, bred in diplomacy in the midst of all the exertions and efforts made in the later wars', an dhaving 'great respect for all that is truly great & respectable, accompanied with a great simplicity & innocence..'. He later wrote in 1838 of their work at Oakly: 'We have just finished a work which is the very picture of himself (Mr Clive) having been molded by our joint labors these 10 or more years. It is substantial, of very handsome intrinsic material, almost unadorned, except by minor features, besdie those solid proportions, shewing a refinement what would escape vuglar eyes like those almost female delicacies which accompany the robust magnificence of a Hercules, or a very strong but high bred horse. Of low proportion & Doric in all its character' (D. Watkin, The life and work of C.R. Cockerell, London, 1974, pp. 162-163).
The red Aberdeen granite slabs are serpentined and rounded in the Louis XV manner an dtheir pillared rails are trellised in the manner of Roman bronze altar-tripods. The Grecian-moulded mahogany frames are also enriched with triumphal palms issuing from eye volutes of their serpentined and reed-enriched 'console' trusses. Such 'scroll standards' or consoles also featured in patterns for sideboards with 'bronzed rods' issued in T. King, The Modern Style of Cabinet Work Exemplified, 1829, and J.C. Loudon, The Encyclopedia of Cottage, Farm and Villa Architecture and Furniture, 1833, no. 1872 (E.T. Joy, The Pictorial Dictionary of British 19th century furniture design, Woodbridge, 1977, pp. 430 and 431).