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Tripod tea table

  • Place of origin:

    London (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1737-1738 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hintz, Federick (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Mahogany, with inlaid brass and mother-of-pearl

  • Credit Line:

    Gift of Brigadier W. E. Clark CMG, DSO through The Art Fund

  • Museum number:

    W.3-1965

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 52b, case 2

Object Type
The tea table was first introduced in the late 17th century. Elizabeth Maitland, Duchess of Lauderdale (died 1698), had 'a Tea-Table carved and guilt' in her Private Closet at Ham House near the Thames at Richmond in 1679. Around 1700, over 6,000 lacquered tea tables were imported through the East India Company. By the mid-18th century, London furniture makers produced their own alternative form for the luxury market in mahogany embellished with brass inlay. Today, 34 such tables are recorded.

People
Tea was still served to people of quality, although as prices fell it became a more popular drink. In 1745 it was noted that 'the tea-table costs more to support than would maintain two children at nurse'. This table is attributed to Frederick Hintz (died 1772), who settled in London and worked at the sign of The Porcupine, Newport Street, Leicester Fields. His stock in 1738 included mahogany tea tables, tea chests and tea boards.

Design & Designing
From 1730, some of the most luxurious furniture was decorated with brass inlay. The use of mother-of-pearl as well as brass inlay is described in an advertisement of Hintz's stock in 1738. The anthropomorphic legs of this table are rare, possibly inspired by Dutch prototypes.

Physical description

A mahogany tripod table, inlaid with brass and mother-of-pearl. The top has scalloped edges, is dished to hold tea wares and is decorated with inlaid gentian flowers and leaves. It has a central pedestal, to which are joined three legs, in the form of human legs complete with stockings and buckled shoes. The table top is hinged and can be tilted down into a vertical position and placed against the wall where the brass and mother-of-pearl inlay would catch the light.

Place of Origin

London (probably, made)

Date

1737-1738 (made)

Artist/maker

Hintz, Federick (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Mahogany, with inlaid brass and mother-of-pearl

Dimensions

Height: 111 cm in vertical position, Height: 71.8 cm in horizontal position, Diameter: 72.5 cm

Object history note

Taking tea became so fashionable during the 18th century that specialised items of furniture were produced, such as this tea table. The scalloped edges were designed to protect the tea wares and the hinged top meant that it could be placed flat against the wall when not required.

Descriptive line

Mahogany tripod table, inlaid with brass and mother-of-pearl, probably made by Federick Hintz, ca. 1738

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Antiques Magazine, February 1994; Gilbert and Murdoch, John Channon and English Brass Inlaid Furniture, 1730-1760. New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1993, fig.155, pp.116, 159.
Gilbert, Christopher and Tessa Murdoch. John Channon and Brass-inlaid Furniture, 1730-1760. London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993. Plate XXVI.

Labels and date

The anthropomorphic tripod legs to this table are very unusual. The top is dished to protect porcelain tea wares in use. The combination of brass and mother-of-pearl inlay suggests that the table was made by Frederick Hintz, a London cabinet-maker of German birth, who specialised in such work. The inlay on the table top is in the form of gentian flowers and leaves. The shoe feet have brass buckles. [1995]

Materials

Mahogany; Brass (alloy); Mother of pearl

Techniques

Inlay (process)

Subjects depicted

Leaves (plant materials); Flowers (plants)

Categories

Furniture; Household objects; Woodwork; British Galleries; Tea, Coffee & Chocolate wares

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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