The monumental proportions and robust architectural design of this table, with its interlaced Greek-key frieze, and heavy laurel swags with pendants, are inspired by a celebrated example attributed to Joseph Baumhauer (d. 1772), formerly in the collection of Sir Anthony de Rothschild (P. Kjellberg, Le Mobilier Français Du XVIIIe Siècle, 1989, p. 449, fig. D). The bold design is a tour-de-force of the so-called goût grec, the earliest and most avant garde phase of French neoclassicism.
The fashionable, although short-lived, goût grec style developed in the 1750's, in part as a reaction to the excesses of the rococo, and was promoted by influential designers such as the architect Louis-Joseph Le Lorrain. The style was further fueled by the writings of Charles-Nicolas Cochin (d. 1790) who, upon his return from Italy, published influential articles lamenting the overuse of Rocaille decoration. Experimental items of furniture in the new style were conceived circa 1754 - 1756, including, most notably, a prototype for the present model, the innovative bureau plat en cartonnier made, probably by Baumhauer, for the Parisian hôtel of the amateur Ange-Laurent Lalive de Jully, from the designs of Lorrain, now at the Musée Condé at Chantilly (S. Eriksen, Early neo-classicism in France, London, 1974, figs. 85 - 89, and P. Kjellberg, op. cit., p. 449. fig. C).
The austere Greek style soon gained wide popularity. Writing in 1763, Baron de Grimm observed: ...tout est à Paris à la grecque (ibid., p. 264), an indication that the taste had spread well beyond the circle of a small group of patrons and collectors. A related table appears in a 1762 portrait of Prince Dmitri Golitsyn by Drouais (Pushkin Museum, No. 864) and in a portrait of the Marquis d'Ossun, attributed to Drouais (National Gallery, Washington). Indeed, the inclusion of the table in prestigious period portraits is an indication that the design was considered the height of fashion. This severe stylistic theme lasted only until circa 1765 - 1770 when it yielded to the more approachable transitional style.