9040 A MAGNIFICENT REGENCY GILTWOOD CONSOLE TABLE English. Circa 1810. Measurements: Height: 42″ (106.5cm) Width: 65 1/2″ (166cm) Depth: 30 1/2″ (77cm)
Of giltwood and ebony. The Bianco e Nero rectangular marble top above the cavetto frieze carved with foliate decoration, the frieze edged above with egg and dart moulding and below with tongue and dart moulding and carved to the angles with stiff leaf decoration, the top supported by two winged monopodia, each with a lion’s mask and terminating in a paw foot, the mirror-inset back flanked by two panelled pilasters, the whole raised on an ebony plinth base with brass-line inlay and eared corners.
This sumptuous giltwood console table reflects the opulent and boldly masculine taste of the giltwood furniture made for the Prince Regent, later George IV, to furnish his great London mansion Carlton House.
A pair of console tables made for Carlton House by Tatham Bailey and Sanders in January 1814 shares the scale and grandeur of the present piece and mirrors its basic form. An impressively weighty marble top rests on a broad decorated frieze raised on carved giltwood supports to either end with a mirrored back to the reverse flanked by pilaster uprights. The whole is then set on a plinth base, confirming the table’s powerful presence1. In those tables seated griffins of conventional neo-classical design form the uprights to either end: in the present table the top is raised on more unusual monopods, with elaborate winged lions, with scaled chests, raised on a single paw foot. The use of ebony veneer and brass inlay on the plinth further adds to the luxurious and monumental appearance of the table.
The table is conceived in that royal taste which shaped the remodelling of the interiors of Carlton House from around 1806. The earlier French-inspired neo-classicism of Henry Holland’s interiors of the 1780s and early 1790s gave way to a greater opulence characterised by the more assertive use of forms derived from Roman antiquity2. Charles Wild’s watercolour depictions of the interior of Carlton House record some of the lavish splendour of those lost rooms as they appeared shortly before the demolition of the palatial residence in the middle of the 1820s. Views such as those of the Old Throne Room in circa 1816 (figure 1) and the Rose Satin Drawing Room in circa 1817 (figure 2) demonstrate the extraordinary richness of those interiors and the scale and grandeur of the giltwood furniture designed to decorate those rooms.
The remodelling of the early nineteenth-century was undertaken chiefly under the influence of the writer, collector, connoisseur and dilettante Walsh Porter, who acted as the prince’s chief advisor between 1805 and 1809.3 Porter was himself a member of the Carlton House set: that select group of the most fashionable aristocratic figures of the age who followed the Prince Regent in his advanced taste and lavish expenditure. It seems certain that the present table should be considered in the context of this circle of adventurous aristocratic neo-classical taste and sophisticated sponsorship of the leading craftsmen of the day.
1. Carlton House: The Past Glories of George IV’s Palace, London (1991), No. 37, p. 86-7
2. Carlton House: The Past Glories of George IV’s Palace, London (1991), p. 22
3. Carlton House: The Past Glories of George IV’s Palace, London (1991), p. 12