This elegant centre table of black rosewood with gilt embellishments, similar in character to the side cabinet offered here (lot 198), was probably acquired by George Osborne, 6th Duke of Leeds (d. 1838) from the Royal cabinet-makers, Marsh & Tatham. The compact double foliate scroll decoration and feet joined by anthemion motifs correspond to similar mounts found on furniture Southill Park, Bedfordshire, where Henry Holland (d. 1806) designed interiors for Samuel Whibread II (d. 1815). A carved and gilt writing-table and large centre table in the Drawing Room are designed in similar fashion (F.J.B. Watson, Southill A Regency House, London, 1951, figs. 44, 47). The winged allegorical mounts on the trestle supports emblematic of Victory are almost certainly inspired by Charles Percier and Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaines’ celebrated Receuil de décorations intérieurs, first published in 1801. This compendium exerted a considerable influence on French design during the Empire period and, as the present table would suggest, inspired furniture makers across the continent and beyond in the subsequent decades. The roundels above – here featuring the figures of Cupid and Psyche – also reference French neo-classical design and painting of the early 19th century.
Many of the furniture designs of Henry Holland, Thomas Hope and George Smith were informed by Charles Heathcote Tatham (d. 1842), the younger brother of Thomas Tatham of Marsh & Tatham. Holland had employed and sponsored C.H. Tatham on his Grand Tour from 1794 - 96 to act as his agent in the purchase of antiquities and casts with which to furnish the Prince of Wales’ London house, Carlton House, and to study and illustrate classical remains. Upon his return to England C.H. Tatham published his pen and ink drawings of antique fragments in Etchings of Ancient Ornamental Architecture drawn from the Originals in Rome (1799), an important source book for neo-classical decoration and furniture derived from excavations at Pompeii, Herculaneum, Tivoli and Rome.
The table relates closely to a design by Thomas Hope (d.1831) for his brother, Henry Philip Hope, for 3 Seymour (Seamore) Place, London, and which was sold Christie’s, London, 3 July 1997, lot 60, (£221,500 including premium). Tania Buckrell Pos suggests that C.H. Tatham paved the way for Hope (‘Tatham and Italy: Influences on English neo-classical design’, Furniture History Society, vol. 38, 2002, p. 62). Hope owned the first, second and third edition of Etchings, but did not acknowledge the volume in his bibliography for Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, published in 1807. Hope, like Holland before him, was convinced that contemporary French design represented the zenith of European civilisation, and his own house/museum in Duchess Street London admirably reflected his own interests as reflected in the illustrations in his design book. The design for the present table certainly derives from Hope’s similar drawing of a slab end table (plate 12, nos. 1 and 2, illustrated).
Another table of similar form, probably acquired for Tyrone House, Co. Galway and with eagles’ masks in place of the leaf scrolls beneath the table top, was sold anonymously Bonhams, London, 15 June 2011, lot 121 (£264,000 including premium).