This elegant pembroke-table has its oval medallion top charged with the coat-of-arms of the Masterman family of Riccal, Yorkshire, as has been recorded on an oval tea-salver bearing the date letter for 1782 (sold Christie's, London, 30 October 1991, lot 209). The table frieze's central medallion displays the family's Moor's head crest tied in a flowered ribbon-guilloche, while laurels wreath the top's beribboned escutcheon and entwine its flowered ribbon border. The antique border pattern relates to those in Designs for Various Ornaments, London, 1777 issued by M. A. Pergolesi, who was one of the decorative artists employed by the architect Robert Adam (d. 1792). The black colouring of the table's reed-moulded border reflects the influence of the 'Etruscan' style popularised by Works in Architecture, 1773-7 published by Robert Adam and his brother James. The use of an ebonised border is associated with the documented work of the Golden Square firm of John Mayhew and William Ince. The guilloche band can be related in particular to those featured on satinwood 'commode' bookcases inventoried in 1786 at Broadlands, Hampshire, and likely to have been supplied by the firm (H. Roberts, 'Furniture at Broadlands, Hampshire', Country Life, 29 January 1981, p. 289, fig. 7). The flowered ribbon guilloche of the frieze also appears on a commode at Syon House, Middlesex, a documented house at which the firm was employed. Lucy Wood suggests this commode may be by Mayhew (L. Wood, Catalogue of Commodes, London, 1994, p. 24, fig. 18 and p. 22, note 111). Other furniture closely related with the same frieze design includes a commode table illustrated in E. T. Joy, 'A marquetry commode of c. 1775: An outstanding production of the English cabinet-makers' craft' The Connoisseur, January 1965, pp. 36-38, and a side table with wreath-embellished top sold from the Arthur Leidesdorf collection, Sotheby & Co., London, 27 June 1974, lot 43.
The arms are those of Masterman impaling Mildred, for William Masterman of Leyton (1759-1845) and his wife Lydia (1756-1819), daughter of Daniel Mildred, a London merchant. Their son, John Masterman (1781-1862) became a Member of Parliament for the City of London from 1841 until 1857. He was also a director of the East India Company and head of the bank Masterman, Peters, Mildred and Masterman and Co.
This table once belonged to the noted collector and philanthropist George D. Widener, Jr. For a full discussion on Widener, please see lot 226.