PAIR OF MARQUETRY, PARQUETRY, MOTHER OF PEARL, WHITE METAL AND GILT METAL BANDED OCCASIONAL TABLES CIRCA 1840
ATTRIBUTED TO ROBERT BLAKE AND PROBABLY SUPPLIED BY EDWARD HOLMES BALDOCK
In excellent condition and retaining original patinated surface
The shaped rectangular tops inlaid with specimen woods and white metal stringing, centred by a coronet above four white metal entwined Bs, the cypher of the Marquess of Breadalbane. The tops are raised on inlaid folding X supports with trestle bases.
Measurements: Height 28” (72cm) width 26” (67cm) depth 18” (46.5cm)
These exquisite folding tables, executed in a variety of contrasting exotic veneers and luxury materials, were almost certainly supplied for John Campbell, 2nd Marquess of Breadalbane, prior to the 1842 visit by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to Taymouth Castle, the Marquess’ principal residence. The west wing of Taymouth was considerably remodelled between 1837and 1842 by the architect, James Gillespie, with the interior decoration supervised by the celebrated London firm of J.G.Crace.
This pair of tables are listed in the inventory of Taymouth Castle conducted in 1863 by Christie Manson and Woods, following the Marquess’ death:
‘A pair of inlaid tables with Breadalbane cypher and coronet in Mother o’ pearl with ormolu mouldings.’
Documents in the National Records of Scotland relating to the Marquess of Breadalbane strongly imply that some of the Taymouth Castle furniture was supplied by E.H.Baldock. In 1833 Baldock supplied a pair of tables signed by Lucio de Lucci, one of which now resides in the V and A and the other in the National Museum of Scotland, to the 5th Duke of Buccleuch as ‘2 Magnificently carved tables with elaborate inlaid tops’. The design and execution of the strapwork decoration, with the use of white metal and marquetry on the Breadalbane tables closely relates to that on the Buccleuch tables.
Robert Blake who executed much of Baldock’s cabinetwork and restoration is likely to have checked over the De Lucci tables before delivery to the Dule of Buccleuch.
He was also renowned for creating intricate marquetry furniture for Baldock. It is therefore reasonable to assume that Robert Blake was commissioned by Baldock to create the pair of folding tables for the Marquess of Breadalbane and was influenced by the De Lucci table decoration.
Edward Holmes Baldock (1777-1845) was arguably the most influential British dealer and supplier of furniture of the first half of the nineteenth century. His extensive list of clients included King George 1V, the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, George Byng, William Beckford, George Wyndham, the 2nd Duke of Sutherland, the Duke of Buccleuch together with many of the leading aristocrats and collectors of the period.
Messrs Blake 1825-1879 headed by Robert Blake, close neighbours of E.H.Baldock, were celebrated as masters of inlay and marquetry work. A number of their marquetry pieces survive in museum collections including a walnut table with floral marquetry made for the 1st Baron Methuen of Corsham Court, now in the V and A and a fabulous Erard piano, made for the Foley family of Witley Court, currently in the Metropolitan Museum, New York.
A technical analysis by Yannick Chastang is available together with a detailed invoice for minor restoration from Philip Barker
Our thanks to:
Stephen Jackson of the National Museum of Scotland for pointing us in the right direction.
The National Records of Scotland for permitting us to view the Breadalbane documents during a difficult time
Christopher Payne for assisting in the attribution.
National Records of Scotland, GD112/22/54. Inventory of furniture, china, glass and linen, property of the Most Noble Marquess of Breadalbane, at Taymouth Castle, N.B.
National Records of Scotland, GD 112/74/607. Miscellaneous Accounts.
Diana Davis, ‘The Tastemakers. British Dealers and the Anglo-Gallic Interior, 1785-1865. Pages 177-179. Getty Publications, 2020.