A Mixed-but Matched-Pair of Side Tables

July 8 2011, 11:04am

This pair of tables, with their boldly canted corners and massive fluted legs, have a distinctive cubic parquetry top very much in the manner of Henry Hill of Marlborough.  As Lucy Wood points out, “large-scale lozenge parquetry… seems to have been a specialty of Hill’s, with or without the addition of marquetry,” signaling his possible authorship of the tables. Carlton Hobbs LLC The tables are also interesting for their mix of carved decorative elements. The first table combines flowerheads redolent of William Kent’s Palladian oeuvre with a Chinoiserie fretted frieze evocative of Thomas Chippendale’s designs, particularly Plate LXXIII of The Gentleman and Cabinetmaker’s Director.   Plate LXXIII of Thomas Chippendale’s Gentlemen and Cabinetmaker’s Director, depicting a table with canted corners and similar Chinoiserie fretted frieze.   The second table is of the same size and outline, and has exactly the same cube parquetry top. However, within this framework it departs from the eclectic detailing of the first table, being a pure rendering of the early flowering of the Neoclassical style in England. The legs and frieze are entirely fluted, with each leg being headed by a finely carved oval patera. The two opposing styles within an identical framework can be seen as a testament to Henry Hill’s abilities as a most versatile and accomplished cabinetmaker. Detail of the top   Hill’s career was not limited to that of cabinetmaker, however. Active between 1740 until the time of his death in 1778, he was also a coach maker, auctioneer, estate agent, and representative for the Sun Insurance Company.2 Most of his clients were landed Wiltshire families, though he was also commissioned by non-local patrons such as Sir John Delaval, who ordered a number of pieces from Hill in 1775-6 for his London home. Carlton Hobbs LLC