Lot 23
  • 23

An important Irish George II mahogany side table circa 1755

200,000 - 300,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • mahogany
  • height 36 in.; width 7 ft. 6 1/2 in.; depth 35 1/4 in.
  • 91.4 cm; 229.9 cm; 89.5 cm
the rectangular mahogany top with rounded corners and molded edge above a conforming plain frieze, the out-curved apron carved with a diaper ground and centered by a portrait medallion of a 'Roman Worth' flanked by foliate-carved conjoined C-scrolls and a pair of large fruiting oakleaf swags each centered by a flower head, the acanthus-carved cabriole legs squared and paneled at the center with an acanthus collar and continuing to squared hairy paw feet with acanthus-carved ankles.


Good condition; the solid mahogany top with some light surface scratches overall and with an old circular stain to the front left corner. Very minor rippling to top and with a very thin age crack running from the right side into the middle of the table approximately 44 inches in length. The underside with some butterfly patches to the age crack. Frieze in good condition. The left apron with two old metal braces at join with frieze to the back side possibly supporting two old repaired breaks. Very small replacement to one leaf tip. The central portrait medallion with a thin age crack to the left side which does not run through the face. The diaper frieze with a thin scoring line. Right apron with two small replaced leaf tips. Old repaired break at join with right front leg; minor nicks to edges. Feet appear to be in very good condition; claws appear to be original.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

The richly detailed carving seen on this table represents the skill and the artistry of the craftsmen working in Ireland in the mid-18th century. Below the plain top, eminently suitable for the display of plate, the apron is centered by a portrait medallion of a ‘Roman Worthy’.  Often Irish tables are carved with a lion's head, which is probably one of the most recognizable features of Irish carving at this period. As noted by The Knight of Glin and James Peill in Irish Furniture - Woodwork and Carving in Ireland from the Earliest Times to the Act of the Union, Yale University Press, 2007, this image was possibly originally inspired by the architect Edward Lovett (c. 1699-1733), who 'was responsible for the introduction of the Kentian plaster tabernacle frame in the style of William Kent and the compartmented ceilings to the Irish interior' (Knight of Glin and James Peill, op. cit.). He was responsible for the interior decoration of 9 Henrietta Place, Dublin. The wooden chimneypiece and over-mantel, which is illustrated by The Knight of Glin and James Peill, (ibid, fig 68), 'is thoroughly Kentian in inspiration and the lion mask and the frieze was almost immediately reproduced in furniture'.   The inclusion of the ‘Roman Worthy’ profile medallion is a rarity in Irish furniture and can be seen on few examples such as on a pair of tables one of which is at Temple Newsam House and the other one is in a private collection.  (illustrated C. Gilbert, Furniture at Temple Newsam House and Lotherton Hall, Leeds, 1978, vol. II, p. 358, fig. 449 and Glin and Peill, p. 74, fig. 89).  The portrait medallion is associated with the carver John Houghton who was responsible for a number of documented pieces with similar carving.  Houghton was used to working in the Kentian aesthetic having carved the magnificent overmantel relief of Marcus Aurelius, which was originally part of the decoration of the old Presence Chamber in Dublin Castle. (Glin and Peill, pp. 70-79, figs. 85, 88, 89, 90)  The overall design of the present table is nearly identical to one now in a private collection formerly at Cabinteely House, Co. Dublin until sold at Christie’s, November 5-6, 1984, lot 99.  Each table has a nearly identical portrait medallion and very similar swags. (Glin and Peill, pp. 220, 233, no. 119)  The cabriole legs which are squared at the bottom are very similar to a number of tables including a table supplied to Harvey Morres, first Viscount Morres of his new Palladian house, Castele Morres, Col. Kilkenny (Glin and Peill, p. 223, no. 17) and a table supplied to Sir Edward O’Brien, second B. (d. 1765) for Dromoland Castle, Co. Clare (Glin and Peill, pp. 226-227, no. 89). The heavy swags of oak leaves and acorn, sacred to Jupiter, together with the scallop shells, the attribute of Venus who was born of the sea, similarly represent Kent's style, examples of which were included in Some Designs of Mr. Inigo Jones and Mr. Wm. Kent, published by John Vardy in 1744.

A number of similarly designed and carved tables are recorded, many with similar attributes and with framing panels of cross hatching, and the feet similarly carved with paws with foliate scrolled ankles. This almost certainly indicates a small and close-knit group of carvers, working both with architects and builders, and with local cabinetmakers, frame-makers and gilders, the relatively small group of local patrons presumably demanding similar fashionable furniture.  Although a considerable  number of these tables are recorded by The Knight of Glin and James Peill, (op. cit,) few appear to have remained in the houses for which they were originally commissioned; the lack of precise documentation other than lists of cabinetmakers makes identification of the original maker of these and the present table virtually impossible.