A GEORGE II CONSOLE TABLE IN THE MANNER OF THOMAS JOHNSON A rare mid 18th century finely carved giltwood console table in the manner of Thomas Johnson, the later serpentine marble top with carved rocaille and floral apron supported by a naturalistically carved tree stem of intertwined foliate trunks with a ho-ho bird at its rocky base, supported on a rectangular block base with a ribbon and flowerhead border and foliate carved spreading foot. English, circa 1755 Height: 35 in; 89 cm Width: 26 in; 66 cm Depth: 17 ½ in; 44.5 cm Thomas Johnson, a contemporary of Thomas Chippendale, was perhaps one of the most inventive of all mid 18th century furniture designers creating designs for complex and ambitious carved furniture heavily influenced by the naturalistic forms of the rococo. Playful and sometimes narrative subjects, often taken from the light hearted tales of Aesop's Fables, were created within the carving to present an idealised rustic decoration. Johnson published his designs with the first publication ‘Twelve Girandoles’ appearing in 1755, which although only a slim volume brought him to a wider audience. This was followed by a series of 53 designs published between 1756 and 1757. Being a carver rather than a cabinet-maker, his designs are arguably more inventive than contemporary published cabinet-makers such as Chippendale and Mayhew and Ince. Johnson concentrated his efforts on the design of wall lights, girandoles and console tables which allowed him to play with forms and motifs. The engravings are often too elaborate to be executed, however, and they must have been intended to promote his inventiveness rather than for practical purposes. His target audience after all was cabinet-makers and upholsterers rather than the nobility. This wonderfully whimsical console table with its rich naturalistic forms and light-hearted narrative subjects, superbly illustrate the influence of Thomas Johnson. There are strong similarities of design between these and a celebrated pair of pier glasses at Corsham Court, Wiltshire supplied to Mr. Paul Methuen in the 1760s, with the design attributed to Johnson. Johnson's designs for similar tables were published in his 'Collection of Designs' in 1758 and the similarity to the central design of plate 19 of this edition is clear with the bifurcating trunks issuing from a rocky plinth base with spreading branches supporting the top with a pierced foliate apron. Tables in the style of Thomas Johnson are rare as their complex forms made them more vulnerable than the complimenting mirrors that hung on walls above. The table form allowed the designer to create the full effect of a naturalistic tree growing and supporting the precious imported marble top that itself would have cost more than the elaborate base. A pair of similarly inspired and designed tables, formerly in the collection of the Marquess of Waterford were supplied to Marcus Beresford, 1st Earl of Tyrone probably at the time, he was created 1st Earl of Tyrone in 1746 for his seat Curraghmore, Co. Waterford and illustrated in 'Country Life', 21 February 1963, pp.369 and 370, fig.6.