Luxury Design, Past & Present
This rectangular end support table has a chequerboard pietra dura panel of giallo antico, portoro, brocatelle d’Espagne, Blue John, malachite and other marbles, all set into Ashford black marble carved with floral and foliate borders. The corners are carved with the arms and motto ‘Honi Soit Qui Mal y Pense’ of the Order of the Garter. This top is set on a mahogany table with a shaped frieze and end supports boldly carved with palmettes, scrolls and circular bosses and joined with a turned stretcher. There are the original castors disguised in the feet. English, circa 1822.
The Most Noble Order of the Garter is the world’s oldest order of knighthood in continuous existence, founded by Edward III in 1348. It is the most senior order of knighthood, outranked in precedence only by the Victoria Cross and the George Cross. It is dedicated to the image and arms of Saint George and the honour is conferred solely at the discretion of the monarch. Membership is limited to 24 Companions and includes members of the British Royal Family, foreign sovereigns and individuals who have made an exceptional contribution in public service. Male members are known as Knights Companion, whilst female members are known as Ladies Companion.
The particular form of the arms used on this table, incorporating the Hanoverian arms in escutcheon, means that it must have been produced between 1816 and 1837. The use of thistles surrounding the garter on both sides is also potentially significant. Usually, a thistle would be used on one side and a rose on the other. This suggests that the table might have Scottish links. Given that George IV made his celebrated visit to Scotland in 1822, staying in Dalkeith Palace, it is quite possible that the table was commissioned at this time. The quality of the Ashford marble top and the pietra dura inlay suggests it might have been made by the Westmacott family of sculptors – who supplied a number of other inlaid stone table tops to the Royal Collection at this period. (Please see the following page for further information on Ashford marble.)