English Regency Mahogany & Gilt Brass Oyster Table by James Newton circa 1810
This is an extremely rare English Regency mahogany and gilt brass Oyster Table by the renowned London furniture maker James Newton. Newton worked mainly for the English royal family and aristocracy. This piece of furniture is one of the few surviving pieces with his paper trade label for his Soho London workshop.
As per the tables trade label, James Newton and Son are listed by the Wakefields Merchant & Tradesmans Directory 1794, as being resident at 63 Wardour Street Soho London.
This unusual item was made as a functional piece, rather than the highly decorative furniture which still remains in the royal and aristocratic collections of England’s most wealthy families.
As a functional piece of furniture it was made to be wheeled to the dining table by the butler with an oyster pail filled with fresh oysters. The butler would then lift the upper lid revealing the original zinc lined removable trough. Plates would be placed on the lower tier with the oyster bucket. He would then proceed to shuck (open) the oysters over the trough in front of the dining guests, he would then place them on a plate for the guest, thus proving that the oysters were fresh. This piece of utilitarian furniture is an amazing survivor from a decadent age when dining was taken very seriously. The table stands on a mahogany turned column with four sabre legs retaining their original gilt brass cup castors and wheels.
Please see notes below regarding the provenance, James Newton 1773-1821, circa 1810.
James Newton (1773-1821) Upholder and cabinet maker, trained in the celebrated workshops of Lawrence Fell & William Turton - business rivals of the great Thomas Chippendale - and, in the tradition of ambitious men, married the daughter of the latter, which in part accounts for his meteoric rise to prominence; executing commissions, inter alia, for Matthew Boulton at Soho House, the Earl of Jersey at Osterley, and Sir Gilbert Heathcote; familiar with the fashions of the Regency period, he is listed as a subscriber to Thomas Sheraton’s 1803 ‘Cabinet Dictionary’; a pair of chairs with close concordances to a design of Thomas Hope’s Household Furniture’ (plate 22), and bearing his label may be viewed at the Royal Pavilion Brighton. HEIGHT: 100cm (39.3") SHELF HEIGHT: 59cm (23.2") WIDTH: 68cm (26.7") DEPTH: 49cm (19.2")