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AN AMBOYNA AND EBONY WRITING TABLE 

Origin: England
Circa Date: 1810
Stock No: F3B0178
Location: London
Dimensions:
H: 28.1 in (71.5 cm)
W: 42.1 in (107.0 cm)
L/D: 26.8 in (68.0 cm)
Price Range:
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A superbly modelled Regency amboyna and ebony brass inlaid writing table, the top inlaid with a running alternating brass and ebony pattern of tiny dots above brass and ebony inlaid end supports. The centre section with ebonised acanthus leaves on a gilt ground between the rectangular framework of the central section with its delicately carved metal strung lyre motif. The rectangular ends rest upon slim ebonised platforms decorated with gilded moulded edges, the oblong bases beneath have strongly carved ebonised anthemion motifs leading to the boldly carved lions paw feet.
Based on the designs of Thomas Hope.

This magnificent table reflects the love for the ‘antique’ that was driven by connoisseurs such as George, Prince of Wales, later George IV (d. 1830). Its ornamental origins can be traced in part to the Borghese family’s ancient porphyry ‘Bathing Vase’ and, in particular, to a drawing made of it in Rome in the 1790’s by the Prince’s architect Charles Tatham (d. 1842) and engraved in his Etchings of Ancient Ornamental Architecture, published in London in 1799 (pl. 4). The antiquity’s plinth-supported griffin pilasters provided appropriate inspiration for the design of a sofa-table invented, with Tatham’s assistance, for the Duchess Street mansion established in London’s Portland Place by Thomas Hope (d.1831).

Hope’s sofa-table pattern was to be popularised by an engraving issued in his Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, 1807 (pl. 26), which served as a celebrated guide to his romantic classical style of home embellishment inspired by a close examination of Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities. Indeed the guide to the Sir John Soane Museum entitled The Union of Architecture, Sculpting and Painting (1827) praised Hope’s contribution to furniture design as expressed by its author John Britton: “To Mr. Hope we are indebted, in an eminent degree, for the classical and appropriate style which now generally characterises our furniture and ornamental utensils...Household Furniture and Interior Decoration has not only improved the taste of cabinet-makers and upholsterers but also that of their employers.”

Hope’s sofa-table later appeared in a watercolour of his Duchess Street gallery executed by the artist Robert Billings (d. 1874). His handsome mahogany table, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, provided the precursor for Mallett’s robustly sculpted table.

Also illustrated : A watercolour of the gallery at Thomas Hope’s residence on Duchess Street, executed by the artist Robert Billings. The sofa table visible below the paintings.

CONDITION REPORT ON REQUEST.

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