This elegant ormolu-enriched capstan turning-top writing-table of Grecian black-figured rosewood is designed in the early l9th century French/antique fashion popularised by Thomas Sheratons, Encyclopaedia, 1804-8; and its altar drum is raised on a reed-banded and antique-fluted pillar with Grecian-scrolled claw. The top, wreathed by a reeded ormolu ribbon, is ray-parquetried from the golden ribbon-band of a central medallioned compartment, while the table-frieze is wreathed by sunflowered medallion-plates with lion-heads providing hinged drawer-handles, and these are framed in reed-banded tablets. The truss-scrolled legs, terminating in Ionic- volutes wreathed by Roman acanthus, are similarly embellished with Apollo sunflower bas-reliefs, which are framed by ormolu reeded tablets and medallions.
The table is likely to have been commissioned at the time of Sheraton's publication for the Fane Seat of Wormsley, Stokenchurch, Buckinghamshire, and from the same cabinet-makers, who supplied the related "Inlaid rose wood & Buhl [brass inlaid] Circular Liby. Table ...and bookstand", that was inventoried in a Drawing Room at Hornby Castle, Yorkshire after the death of the 6th Duke of Leeds (d.1838) and sold Christie's, New York, 15 April 2005, lot 170 (Partridge Fine Arts PLC, Handbook, 1997, pp.60-1. no.25). The latter, with ormolu reed-banded claw, was fitted with hinged lioness handles, while its border was wreathed by a boulle-inlaid ribbon in a fashion introduced on his Grecian style furniture by the New Bond Street cabinet-maker George Oakley (d.1840) (see C. Gilbert and G. Beard, Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, Woodbridge, 1986, pp.658-660). It is possible that both these tables were executed by Oakley.
A brass-mounted drum library table with similalry crossbanded rosewood top, although lacking the refinement in design to the pedestal that is such a distinguished element of this table, was sold from a Private Collection, Sotheby's New York, 21 October 2005, lot 21 ($329,600).
William Fane (1857-1933), a descendant of Francis, 1st Earl of Westmoreland (d. 1628), was the son of Col. J. W. Fane of Wormsley, Stokenchurch, Buckinghamshire (1804-75) and his fourth wife Victoria Temple. J.W. Fane (1804-75) was in turn the son of John Fane (1775-1850) and Elizabeth (d.1865), daughter of William Lowndes Stone of Brightwell Park, who married in 1802. This is exactly the date that such a drum table would stylistically have been commissioned.