The Hinton House Table
Formerly in the collection of the 4th Earl Poulett, this table originally formed part of the celebrated collection of Hinton House, Hinton St. George, Gloucestershire.
It is an exceptionally rich and sophisticated example of English furniture design of the late 18th and early 19th century. The stylish simplicity of the table’s curving outswept legs, derived from the example of the Klismos chairs of ancient Greece, reveals the influence of antiquity on the fashion of the period. Thomas Sheraton was one of the leaders of taste who incorporated these forms into English furniture design in his The Cabinet Dictionary of 1803.
Circular tables raised on a pedestal and set with a leather top first evolved as pieces of library furniture in the second half of the 18th century, when they were soon adopted by the most eminent furniture-makers of the day. Such pieces, which later acquired the name ‘drum tables,’ appear to have been a development from the rent table, a peculiarly English mid-18th-century form used in the estate offices of grand country houses. The rent table differed from the form of the drum table in having a square paneled base.
It seems probable that the present table was acquired by the 4th Earl Poulett, a figure of sophisticated taste and considerable style whom it would have eminently suited. As Lord of the Bedchamber and a friend of the Prince Regent, later George IV, the Earl moved in the most fashionable circles of the English Regency. At his second marriage in 1811 to Margaret Smith Burges, the Duke of Clarence, later King William IV, gave away the bride.
The 4th Earl Poulett was only one of the most flamboyant in a line of eminent collectors. An inventory of the effects of the 4th Earl, taken on his death in 1819, may well refer to the present table in its record of a “mahogany circular table for writing” in the grandest of Hinton’s state rooms, the Saloon. The Saloon was one of a series of rooms remodeled by the important architect James Wyatt towards the end of the 18th century as part of the 4th Earl’s project of improvement and addition at the house. The table is certainly recorded at Hinton in a photograph of circa 1969, showing the table in situ in Wyatt’s gothic Gallery, directly adjacent to the Saloon.