Frame – HOA: 33′; WOA: 42 1/2″; DOA: 25 3/8″
CONSTRUCTION: In a manner reminiscent of mantle construction, the rails of the table are joined to the legs with a tenon that is “haunched” at the top and fully exposed at the bottom. The large architectural moldings of the feet and egg-and-dart below the top are secured with large wrought finish nails rather than glue, which is much more common to cabinet work.
DESIGN: This sideboard table was inspired by plate 38 of Chippendale’s DIRECTOR, 1754 edition.
ATTRIBUTION: The table is attributed to the shop of William Buckland (1734-1774) based on its construction and, more importantly, on interrelationships between its carving and other work both documented and attributed to William Bernard Sears (1732-1818). The table’s carved details, which we attribute to Sears, provide the strongest link to Buckland’s shop. Typical of Sears’s work are the fully veined scroll ends with their deeply fluted trailing lobes, outlining cuts on the leaf ends, and the practice of heavily undercutting overlapping leaves. All of these techniques are paralleled in Sears’s other architectural work (Gunston Hall, Mount Airy, and Mount Vernon). For example, a definitive comparison can be made between the circular fret on the table and a virtually identical fret used by Buckland at Gunston Hall. As far as we know, this table is the only example of architect-designed furniture from eighteenth century America.
Buckland’s inventory listed several architectural books and the 1754 edition of Chippendale’s DIRECTOR. In the 3rd edition of the DIRECTOR from 1762, it was noted that the “Feet and rails…are cut through; which gives it an airy look; but will be too slight for Marble-Tops therefore the Tops will be better made of wood.” Tayloe evidently found this to be the case. Probably around 10 years after the table’s manufacture, triangular blocks were wrought-nailed in the leg recesses and “L” shaped braces were screwed to the stiles and rails to support the heavy marble top. Recent conservation removed those blocks and braces, and now the marble top is held in place on separate translucent supports, thus allowing the “airy” nature of the legs to be viewed.