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  • image XF110
Side table, XF110, English, unknown maker, probably early nineteenth century, mahogany. ©Sir John Soane's Museum, London. Photograph: Hugh Kelly.

Side table, English, unknown maker, probably early nineteenth century


Height: 77cm
Width: 103cm
Depth: 31.5cm

Museum number: XF110

Curatorial note

With a shaped top in two sections; the centre projects forward with convex curves either side on the upper section and concave curves either side on the lower section; the top supported on four turned balusters with rectangular blocks top and bottom; the base, with moulded front edge, is concave either side of the central section but the line of the concavity does not match that of the concave frame beneath the table top.

This table is a puzzling amalgam of disparate elements, with the top having a quite different character to the base and the various elements being of different colours of mahogany. It appears to be an improvised and highly idiosyncratic piece made-up for a particular position. It is slightly puzzling that it is assembled with modern nails and screws but the second floor plan in Soane’s 1835 Description clearly shows it at the north end of the ‘Oratory’ by that date. It seems to be, therefore, the ‘ornamental table’ described in that position in the 1837 inventory. The slightly liturgical feel of the piece, with its balusters, perhaps from a staircase but slightly reminiscent of a communion rail, seems appropriate to its placing in the ‘Oratory’.1

In 2015 this table was reinstated in its original position in the recreated Oratory as part of Phase 2 of Opening up the Soane.

1 The balusters might equally here confirm an eighteenth-century staircase. Simon Jervis suggested when examining the table in 2008 that the balusters might have come from a communion rail but at 26 inches high observed that they might be rather low for such a rail. The same would apply to a staircase.

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk