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18th Century Satinwood Pembroke Table

18th Century Satinwood Pembroke Table


circa 1785 - 1795

18th century George III period West Indian satinwood inlaid Pembroke table.

The satinwood veneered top retains an excellent colour and is double crossbanded on top. The rosewood, satinwood and boxwood stringing make up the crossbanding. The overall width with the flaps up is 106cm and with the flaps down is 53cm.

There is a full length mahogany drawer.

The frieze is decorated with rosewood lozenge shaped inlays to the reverse as well and the Pembroke table is raised on inlaid satinwood legs. The fine tapered legs are inlaid in rosewood to all four sides and terminate on the original brass caps and castors.

The form of the Pembroke table with its smaller proportions and distinctive drop-leaves likely originates with the 9th Earl of Pembroke, Henry Herbert (1693-1751).

Herbert studied at Oxford before going on the grand tour in 1712, where he spent time in Naples, Venice and Rome, where he met William Kent. When he returned to England he was appointed Lord of the Bedchamber to George II. He was also made captain and colonel of the 1st Troop of the Horse Guards in 1721.

Herbert’s time in Italy inspired his antiquarian spirit, and in his lifetime he designed seven buildings, including his own home, Pembroke House, Whitehall. Contemporary writer and social figure Horace Walpole complimented Herbert’s aesthetic staying, ‘no man had a purer taste in building.’

Although there is no definitive record, it is commonly believed that Herbert first designed the Pembroke table, a form that is meant for occasional use with two drawers and flaps on either side that can be raised by brackets on hinges (or elbows) to increase the size.

There is another possible origin for the name of the table that stretches back further in the family. It is sometimes said that the table was named for Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke (1561-1621), who allegedly ordered a table of this design. Mary Herbert was one of the first English women to achieve fame as a poet: at Wilton she established the Wilton Circle, which became a ‘paradise for poets,’ including Edmund Spenser, Michael Drayton, Sir John Davies, and Samuel Daniel. She also entertained Queen Elizabeth I with her husband, Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke at Bayndard’s Castle in the City of London.

Either way, the versatility of the table’s form made it a highly popular item in the 18th century home as it could be used for writing, dining, serving tea, or at bedsides. When not in use, the tables could be discreetly tucked away.


Height 73.00cm (28.74 inches)

Width 106.00 (53cm flaps down)cm (41.73 inches)

Depth 90.00cm (35.43 inches)

Stock No: 11531


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