An Eclectic English Work Table

June 1 2010, 11:13am

This English work table, circa 1815, is a curious fusion of the refined neoclassicism of Robert Adam and the exotic eclecticism which emerged during the Regency period.  The finely carved tri-form giltwood stand, based on a Roman form, is typical of Adam’s adaptation of the antique.

The use of composition was also favoured by Adam since, as with the present piece, it lends itself perfectly to the delicate decoration of this inventive version of the neoclassical.  In contrast, the use of faux bronze decoration applied to the composition, and the decorative use of rosewood in conjunction with gilt ornament are more typical features of Regency furniture.  Furthermore, it was also a Regency characteristic to employ finely tooled scarlet leather, such as that fitted to the interior of this piece.

The present piece can be closely compared to a ladies’ work table in Buckingham Palace which, although officially attributed to the London firm Morgan and Sanders,  is widely believed to be Viennese.  The piece in the Royal Collection has similarly outswept legs with hooved feet and a tri-orm plinth.  Although Morgan and Sanders patented a ‘globe’ library table in 1810, in which the two upper quarters of the globe could be let down to reveal a writing surface above a storage well, the globe work table was essentially a Viennese development.  Surviving Viennese designs by Karl Schmidt  depict models with a hemispherical flat top.