The 'Elizabethan' sofa-table with reed-gadrooned oak top, mosaic-parquetried and ribbon-framed in ebony and with satyr-hermed trestles, recalls antique ornament such as featured in the engravings of Hans Vredeman de Vries (d. 1604). This romantic 19th Century Elizabethan fashion was promoted by antiquarians such as Henry Shaw (d. 1873), whose Specimens of Ancient Furniture, 1833, illustrated furniture fabricated from antique woodwork by dealers such as Mr. Webb of Bond Street and Mr. Swaby of Wardour Street.
George Hay Dawkins-Pennant commissioned an 'Elizabethan' sofa table for his stupendous 'Saxo Norman' Welsh Castle, Penrhyn Castle, Caernarvonshire, which had been built in the 1820s by Thomas Hopper (d. 1856), architect to the Prince Regent, later George IV. The present lot is very similar to and possibly the pair to the one still at Penrhyn Castle. Penrhyn, which is now owned by the National Trust, has a splendid bureau-plat en-suite with the sofa-table; and they may have been executed under Hopper's direction by the Penrhyn estate craftsmen. Indeed, the present table bears the pencilled inscription of W. Cartney and the date 26. The bureau-plat or desk is illustrated in the foreground of Henry Hawkins' 1846 lithograph of the Library at Penrhyn (J. Marsden, 'Neo Norman furnishings at Penrhyn Castle', Apollo, April 1993, p. 265, fig. 3). It also seems likely that Hopper employed the artist and furniture designer, Henry Whitaker, to design this furniture. The latter wrote in The Builder, 1845, that the result 'has been eminently successful, the furniture being thoroughly in keeping with the architecture'.