A GEORGE II OAK AND MARBLE TOPPED SIDE TABLE, MID 18TH CENTURY
A GEORGE II OAK AND MARBLE TOPPED SIDE TABLE MID 18TH CENTURY The breche violette top on a crossbanded stained base chalk inscribed indistinctly to the underside 'Esq Harbor'80cm high, 143cm wide, 68cm deep The magnificent breche violette marble 'slab' top was likely acquired in Italy or France in the early 18th century and brought back to this country where it was placed on its oak frame. At that time the cost of such marble slabs exceeded the cost of the supporting frame by an order of magnitude. This slab features an unusually narrow rebate at its edge, perhaps not broad enough for the frame to bear the enormous weight of the slab, or to provide an overhang over the edge of the frame, as was the custom. Therefore it seems that the frame was designed to support the slab's roughed out underside. The lapidary skill required to enlarge the rebate, to ensure the top would sit snug into its frame was perhaps unavailable at the time of the frame's manufacture, furthermore the risk in subjecting such a valuable slab to cutting may have been deemed too great. In any case, the interest and rarity of the slab far outweighed the design or quality of the frame, which was created as a mere support to raise the slab, the better to be seen in a room setting. The distinctive form of squared off foot of the frame is close in design to the foot design on a set of walnut and parcel gilt chairs, originally made for Houghton Hall, Norfolk and now owned by the Victoria & Albert Museum, and on loan at Houghton Hall (W.17:1,2-2002). The chairs were probably made by Thomas Roberts, Jr, for Sir Robert Walpole in the late 1720s. In Houghton's inventory of 1792, marble slabs were listed separately to the magnificent furnishings of tables, beds, chairs and mirrors. One in the Green Drawing Room was recorded as 'A beautiful large Slab table inlaid with Lapis Lauzulla / valuable'. At that time the frames for such slabs were generally considered functional, not as valued ornamentation.