COMPARISON: This architectonic slab table is a rare and important example of high style, late 18th-century cabinetwork probably produced in northeastern North Carolina, based on the slightly provincial carving when compared to Williamsburg examples illustrated in Ronald Hurst and Jonathan Prown, “Southern Furniture 1680-1830: The ColonialWilliamsburg Collection,”1997, cat. no. 97.
STYLE AND CONSTRUCTION: In THE FURNITURE OF COASTAL NORTH CAROLINA, author John Bivins, Jr., has the following comments about this table and other related pieces,: “Also closely allied with Virginia work is a group of mahogany tables, the products of at least two shops, that all have Pamlico provenances and probably are the work of New Bern cabinetmakers. Foremost among these is a sideboard table [Acc. 4697.2] with a slab top which was purchased near New Bern in the 1930’s. The tapering legs with a canted section were a popular late Rococo form in Britain, especially Ireland; the tasley-like feet of this table appear to be a derivation of guttae, the small drop-like projections suspended under the triglyphs of a classical Doric entablature. Chippendale illustrated the use of such a foot on one of the “Gothick” chairs in plate 21 of the first and second editions of the DIRECTOR. The canted leg plan is not illustrated by Chippendale, but its tapering form is a derivation of the familiar ‘term’ leg shown in numerous DIRECTOR plates. The ‘term’ was a classical architectural device originally used as a pedestal for sculpture. Both canted legs and carved guttae-like feet were produced in Williamsburg, suggesting that [this table] and work related to it, like other New Bern attributed work, were made by Virginia trained artisans who moved south. [This table] however, does not possess the degree of refinement expected of urban Virginia work, even though it has a good measure of sophistication. The marble slab is exceptionally thick and heavy, and the cabinetmaker offset the visual weight of the slab with a very broad molding below it which has both the profile and the size of a crown molding used on large case furniture. Even the strapwork comprising the applied fret seems unusually heavy; the massive frieze and top overwhelm the delicacy of the legs. It seems a miracle that the legs survived the enormous weight of the slab; the rigidity of the thin frame was assisted somewhat by a pair of braces dovetailed into the front and rear rails. The top molding is face-nailed to the frame, unlike most Williamsburg work. The spandrels are replaced and there is no evidence of any having been used at the back of the table except on the side; the astragal below the fret is also a restoration.” (pp. 400-402)