octagonal center table

 
Artist
Creation date
Materials
walnut and ebony veneer, wood marquetry of boxwood, holly and purpleheart and other exotic timbers
Dimensions
28 x 60 in.
Credit line
Nicholas H. Noyes Fund
Accession number
1991.108
Collection
Not Currently On View
H. Blairman & Sons, Ltd., London; purchased from H. Blairman & Sons, September 1991.
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Indianapolis Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection (2005)

This elaborate rococo revival table exemplifies the most fashionable English taste of the mid-19th century. With its leather surface, for books to lie flat on, it would have occupied a central position in an elegant library or entrance hall. One of fewer than ten closely related examples found in museum and private collections around the world, the piece closely follows an engraving by the designer, architect, and sculptor Richard H. Bridgens for a “Marqueterie Centre Table.” The pattern appears in Bridgens’s book, Furniture with Candelabra and Interior Decoration, first published in London in 1825.

The table was sold by the firm of Edward Holmes Baldock, one of 19th-century London’s most prominent furniture and porcelain brokers, whose clientele included King George IV and other distinguished patrons. Baldock also made new furniture and “improved” old pieces. We do not know if Baldock produced this table himself, or if he commissioned a specialist to make it and then sold it under his name, but the quality of its construction—visible especially in the complex shape and marquetry decoration of its base—attests to the accomplishment of the cabinetmaker. Based upon information on the bills of sale for similar tables, the marquetry of the IMA’s piece is attributable to Robert Blake or the Blake firm. The design of the marquetry’s Rococo-style scrolls is more German than English, indicating it was probably inspired by German ornamental prints of the 1700s.