8013

THE NOSELEY HALL LIBRARY TABLES – A RARE PAIR OF BACK-TO-BACK MAHOGANY KNEEHOLE LIBRARY TABLES

English. Circa 1740.

Measurements

Height: 29 1/2" (75cm)
Width: 41" (104cm)
Depth: 26 1/2" (67cm)
Depth of Straight Side: 20" (51cm)

Research

Of mahogany with gilt brass mounts and inlay. Each with bow fronted top with very old but later gilt and tooled leather inset, the frieze fitted to the front with three feather banded drawers, each drawer with a brass inlaid escutcheons and handle back-plates and brass handles, the arched kneehole flanked by bow fronted feather-banded cupboard doors, each with a brass inlaid escutcheon, the shaped sides, the whole raised on six scrolling feet. Possibly once with ratcheted reading stand whose outline is faintly observable beneath leather replaced crossbanded strip in rear of one table.

Provenance:
Noseley Hall, Leicestershire, seat of the Hazlerigg Family

The present tables are closely related, albeit in more simplified form, to a pair of mahogany pier tables of 1735, almost certainly designed by the celebrated architect and designer William Kent (figure 1).

That table was one of a pair with en suite pier glasses provided to Kent’s client and close associate Lady Burlington, by the carver John Boson who seems certain to have been working to a design by Kent. In a letter written at Bath in 1735, Lady Burlington refers to these tables, and to Kent using his nickname in that family: “I hope the Signior has remembered about my tables and glasses.”1

The present tables represent another version of the pier tables, with decorative elements eschewed in favor of a more purely architectural form.  In the essentials of the design the tables are strikingly similar, with projecting central arched kneeholes below a substantial undermold. The frieze below is set with three drawers and is divided from the main body of the table by a band of molding running around the whole piece, repeated at the level of the springing of the arched kneehole that gives the tables their most marked accent. The giltwood owls to the sides of the pier table are in the present piece reduced to a voluted corbel that continues fluently as the curving sides of the present tables.

The present piece is also closely related to a single kneehole dressing table formerly in the collection of the 5th Lord Byron at Newstead Abbey. That piece, “an outstanding example of fine quality craftsmanship,”2 is, like the present piece, bow-fronted with an arched kneehole to the center. Significantly the bowed front incorporates conforming bowed drawers, as in the present pair of tables. In addition the kneehole is flanked to the edge by uprights with scrolling brackets towards the top. However, these uprights are treated as applied elements in the conventional manner rather than being incorporated into the body of the piece in the imaginative and satisfying manner of the present tables.

Full research report available on request.

Full research report available on request.