This magnificent 'Roman' serving-table designed for the display of silver and plate in a banqueting room, is a masterpiece of Irish 18th century craftsmanship. The profile medallion of a Roman worthy, celebrating Roman virtue, may be based on a Grand Tour souvenir gem and the table is undoubtedly the pair to the one at Temple Newsam House, Leeds which has the same profile head but facing the other way (C. Gilbert, op. cit, vol. II, fig. 449).
The profile medallion is a motif that appears occasionally in Irish wood carving of the 18th century. The frieze in Iveagh House, Dublin, set into the grandiloquent 19th century staircase is almost certainly 18th century and from the great carver John Houghton's workshop. Putti, acanthus and birds frame a medallion of a Roman worthy. Another medallion, probably of a young student or philosopher, centres a pedimented chimneypiece on the ground floor of The Provost's House, Trinity College Dublin. It is displayed below swagged drapery tied with rope, while a profile bust of a laurel-wreathed Roman appears on a medallion centring the apron of a bureau-cabinet at Glin Castle, Co. Limerick (see The Knight of Glin, Irish Furniture, The Irish Heritage Series, vol. 16, Dublin, 1978, p. 33, fig. 32. and forthcoming book The Knight of Glin and J. Peill, Irish Furniture). A side table, with a medallion of the head of a Roman flanked by oak-swags and with a trelliswork ground, was sold by the McGrath family, Cabinteely House, Co. Dublin, 5-6 November 1984, lot 99.
An inventory of Lawrence Delamain's house in Cork, taken in 1763, lists in the front parlour a mahogany dining-table, a marble table, a card- table, chairs with leather seats and brasss fittings for wall lights, all no doubt designed to impress his clientele as he was a teacher of dancing (T. Barnard, Making the Grand Figure, Lives and Possessions in Ireland, 1641-1770, London, 2004, p. 112). No doubt the marble table referred to a table similar to the present lot.