This French Neoclassical veneered tulipwood table (guéridon), ca. 1775-1800, is of cylindrical shape with an upper rotating compartment surmounted by an openwork gilt-bronze gallery and a lower shelf banded in gilt-bronze. Supporting the upper compartment is a turned and fluted pedestal with a gadrooned and granulated gilt-bronze mount at its base; supporting the shelf are four fluted, round-in-section, tapering tulipwood legs with cylindrical caps mounted with granulated discs and terminating in gilt-bronze sabots. The upper compartment has a drawer which, when opened, reveals a gilt-embossed leather writing slide and a compartment with a white copper (nickel silver) power box and ink box with a circular glass ink well (these possibly not original to the table). The top is decorated in pie-wedge kingwood marquetry, radiating from a lobed kingwood and amaranth marquetry center, the entire design banded in amaranth marquetry. The sides are mounted with gilt-bronze “flutes,” each with a granulated border, and an under mount of dash-dot design, each dash also bordered with granulation. The marquetry of the shelf is similar to that of the top.
The shelf, which has been reinforced with wood bracing in modern times, is branded on the underside: EHB, which is the brand of the nineteenth-century English dealer Edward Holmes Baldock (1777-1845), who, beginning in 1805, specialized in French furniture and supplied many of the most important English collectors of his time, including those of the Dukes of Buccleuch and Northumberland, George Byng, and William Beckford. Small French antique tables became an especially important element of the fashionable salle de reception or boudoir in the court surrounding George, Prince Regent (later King George IV) (1762-1830). Among the court was William Lowther, 2nd Earl of Lonsdale (1787-1872), who was one of Baldock’s principal patrons. After the death of King George IV, Baldock received the royal warrants, “Purveyor of China, Earthenware and Glass to William IV” (1832-37) and “Purveyor of China to Queen Victoria” (1838-45). He functioned as both a retailer and manufacturer of furniture and luxury objects in the French taste, and he also repaired and remodeled existing furniture. His mark cannot, however, be regarded as a maker's mark in the traditional sense, as he also branded antique furniture that he offered for sale. See Geoffrey de Bellaigue, “Edward Holmes Baldock,” The Connoisseur vol. 189 (August 1975), 290-99 and vol. 190 (September 1975), 18-25. Baldock also seems to have employed the Paris-based George Gunn to act on his behalf in the supply of French antique furniture. See Sarah Medlam, The Bettine, Lady Abingdon Collection (London, 1996) 33.
The design of the Dumbarton Oaks table is unusual but not unknown in the French Neoclassical period. When small round worktables came into popularity in the early 1760s, merchants (marchands-merciers)—the forerunners of modern interior designers—began to request innovative designs. In volume three of his L’Art du menuisier en bâtiments (Paris, published between 1769 and 1775), the cabinetmaker André-Jacob Roubo wrote: “There still are endless tables of all types in all shapes and sizes ... the whims of a few workers or those who they work for.” [Il se fait encore une infinité de tables de toutes les espèces, de toutes formes et grandeurs ... les caprices de quelques ouvriers ou de ceux qui les font faire.] The model of the Dumbarton Oaks table and other closely related models likely were conceived by the marchand-mercier Simon-Philippe Poirier around 1770. He requested this type of table in particular from the cabinetmakers Martin Carlin (ca. 1730-1785) and Roger Vandercruse Lacroix (1728-1799). The prototype was apparently in the Rococo style, having the shelf supported by four cabriole legs. (Compare one sold at Sotheby's Monaco on May 21-22, 1978, lot 18). The prototype evolved into a table with straight fluted legs, probably about 1775. Two tables of this type stamped by Carlin, one with a Sèvres porcelain plaque dated 1775, are in the Jones Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (1058-1882 and 1067-1882). See Oliver Brackett, Catalogue of the Jones Collection part I (London, 1930), no.44, pl.28. Another table of this latter model by Martin Carlin is in the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio (1942.594), and a third, attributed to Carlin, was sold by Christie’s New York on November 2, 2000, sale 9502, lot 22.
Collection of Florence and M. George Blumenthal, Paris.
Sold at Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, lot 177, 12/1-2/1932 (pl. 77 sales catalogue).
Purchased from French & Co., New York, New York (inv. no. 38998) by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, 7/31/1933.
Collection of Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, Washington, D.C., 7/31/1933-11/29/1940.
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, House Collection, Washington, D.C.