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A William & Mary giltwood side table having a carved acanthus frieze with a female mask at the centre of an open scrolling apron below. The table is supported on shaped and carved rectangular square tapering column legs richly carved with further foliate ornament and reeding. The legs are joined by a boldly modelled scrolling stretcher with a giltwood vase at the centre. With associated veined jasper slab.Attributed to Jean Pelletier.Provenance:Acquired from John Cragg of Tenby, Pembrokeshire before 1958 and by repute from the Philipps family whose principal family seat is Picton Castle, Pembrokeshire.
Jean Pelletier (fl. circa 1681-1704) brought his family to England towards the end of the 17th century, like so many Huguenots who sought refuge after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The Edict had been issued by Henry IV in 1598 to give certain rights to French Protestants, the Huguenots, in what was a largely Catholic country. This was later renounced by Louis XIV in 1685, bringing about an exodus from France to escape religious persecution. Many craftsmen came to England at that time.
Pelletier took English citizenship in 1681 and he and his sons who followed him became established as carvers and gilders. Over the years he acquired a clientele of prestigious patrons, notably the Duke of Montagu who was Ambassador to the Court of Louis XIV and Master of the Bedroom to William III. Through this connection, Pelletier went on to supply giltwood furniture to the King at Hampton Court. At a cost of some six hundred pounds, the commission included six tables with giltwood frames supporting marble slabs flanked by pairs of large giltwood candle stands.
Picton Castle in Pembrokeshire dates back to the 13th century and came into the Philipps family in the 15th century. They were a highly important family in Wales and held great power and influence over four centuries in Pembrokeshire. They were landed with large estates and were to become politicians, philanthropists and leaders of society and cultural life. Picton Castle has undergone considerable alterations over the centuries, not least under the ownership of Sir John Philipps, 4th Baronet (1660-1736). An important pair of carved giltwood chandeliers were probably commissioned by Sir John during these developments and are also currently for sale with Malletts. The style and construction of these outstanding chandeliers corresponds very closely to Pelletier's work on candle stands for the King at Hampton Court Palace and it is likely that he was commissioned to provide further pieces for the rooms at Picton, including this table. His son, the 6th Baronet, made further renovations in the mid 18th century and further additions were made in the early part of the 19th century. It is therefore most likely, given the date of the table coinciding with the contemporary improvements and changes made at Picton in the late 17th century by the 4th Baronet, that it was commissioned by him at that time as part of these developments at his ancient family home.
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