The table retains the original brass wire panels and the original brass axe handles.
The design of the table follows plate XXXIII of the first edition and plate LIII of the third edition of Chippendale’s Director. The dense Cuban mahogany of the top has acquired an outstanding colour and patination.
A supper table with identical brass wire mesh enclosing the under tier was supplied by Thomas Chippendale in 1759 to Dumfries House in Scotland: ‘5th May 1759: A mahog. Breakfast table of fine wood wt. a Writing drawer and Wirework round & castors & c. £6 – 8.’
The brass wire mesh enclosing the under tier had to be handmade to order, and it appears to be identical on the two tables, as do also the axe handles, which were preferred by the Chippendale workshop. The concave indentation to the front on both tables is D-shaped, which lends the table a certain elegance. The red wash to the underside, though not unique to the Chippendale workshop, further supports the attribution.
Other workshops also produced similar models of tables. A similar table at Dumfries was supplied by Samuel Smith in 1756. It has square legs set at an angle into the frame, an H-stretcher and wooden trelliswork enclosing the under tier. The indentation on this table is curved rather than D-shaped.
Further examples of the model can be found in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Longford Castle, Wiltshire, England; and Hagley Hall, Worcestershire, England. The Longford table is of slightly later date and inlaid with floral marquetry to the top in the style of Henry Hill. The table from Hagley Hall is entirely japanned, has a deeper drawer in the frieze and is of slightly different proportion to Chippendale’s design.
Supper tables, or breakfast tables as Chippendale also called them, were multi-functional pieces that, because of their relatively small scale and lightness, could be brought out for a specific purpose and taken away again afterwards. The enclosing of the under tier stopped items falling off during transport.
A painting titled The Garden at Hampton House with Mr. and Mrs. Garrick taking tea by Johan Zoffany RA, dated 1762, depicts the Garrick family seated by a supper table. Thomas Chippendale supplied most of the furniture for Garrick, and it is possible that the table in the painting is also part of Chippendale’s Garrick commission.
Thomas Chippendale, The Gentleman and Cabinet-maker’s Director, 1754, pl. XXXIII.
Thomas Chippendale, The Gentleman and Cabinet-maker’s Director, 3rd edition, 1762, pl. LIII.
Percy Macquoid and Ralph Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, revised edition, 1954, vol. III, pp. 190–91.
Desmond Fitzgerald, Georgian Furniture, 1969, pl. 80.
Connoisseur, September 1972, p. 19; advertisement with Phillips of Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England.
Christopher Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, 1978, vol. II, p. 219.
Burlington Magazine, June 2001, no page no.; advertisement with Norman Adams Ltd., London, England.
Country Life, 7 March 2002, no page no.; advertisement with Norman Adams Ltd., London.
Christie, Manson & Woods, ‘Dumfries House – A Chippendale Commission’, sale catalogue, 12–13 July 2007, vol. I, pp. 168–9, lot 48.
Johan Zoffany, The Garden at Hampton House with Mr. and Mrs. Garrick taking tea, 1762, collection of the Garrick Club, London, inventory no. G1120.
Country Life, 7 December 1961, supplement p. 33; advertisement with Biggs of Maidenhead.
Biggs of Maidenhead, Berkshire, England.
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