The central tablet of the 17th century boulle top celebrates the virtue 'Charitas' and is flanked by medallions depicting Hercules resting from his labours. The female figure of Charity is framed in a baldachino guarded by Venus's dolphins, emblematic of 'Love's triumph'. The subject appears to derive from an engraving after a painting of 'Charity' by Philippe de Champaigne (d. 1674), a founder of the French Academy (Nancy, Musée des Beaux Arts). The canopy is taken from an engraving by Jean Bérain (d. 1711). (T.A. Strange, French Interiors, Furniture, Decoration, Woodwork and Allied Arts, rev. ed., London, 1950, p. 97. The top is likely to have been taken from a late 17th century folding-top pedestal table, such as one attributed to Pierre Golle (d. 1684) and inlaid with the Royal fleurs-de-lys, and another table acquired for the British Royal Collection in the early 19th century (J. Walsh, Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Decorative Arts, Los Angeles, 1997, p. 53 and fig 39).
The combination of the 17th century table top with a contemporary boulle frame was fashionable in England during George IV's reign. It is likely to have been made by the antique dealer cabinet-maker James Nixon (fl. 1816-39) of Great Portland Street, who was noted for acquiring 'curious (finely wrought) and ancient furniture... and adapting them to modern use' (J.C. Loudon, Encylopaedia of Cottage, farmhouse and Villa Architecture and Furniture, 1833). There was a closely related table amongst the furniture probably bought from Nixon by Lord Stuart de Rothesay (d. 1845) of Highcliffe Castle, Hampshire, Ambassador in Paris during much of the period of 1816 to 1831 (S. Medlam, The Bettine, Lady Abingdon Collection, London, 1996, p. 61, no. F21).