H Blairman and Sons

Library table

Designer / Maker

Designed by Owen Jones  (1809-74)

Probably manufactured by Jackson & Graham (firm active 1836-85)


Ebonised pearwood, ebony, harewood, holly, amaranth and sycamore

71.2 x 154.9 x 94.6 cm

English,  circa  1867


Made for Alfred Morrision, 16 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1; [ ... ]; with James Graham-Stewart; H. Blairman & Sons, 2013; private collection


Despite the lack of documentation, relevant auction records and thus provenance information, there is reason to be certain about the history of this table. The distinctive marquetry echoes surviving panelling at (and from) Carlton House Terrace; see, for example, the chimney-piece on the ground floor illustrated in Carol H. Flores, Owen Jones: Design, Ornament, Architecture, and Theory in an Age of Transition, New York, 2006, fig. 4.40. Detached panels now in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum and at the Minneapolis Institute of Art tell the same story; see H. Blairman & Sons, Furniture and Works of Art (2002), no. 13.

Jones-designed furniture supplied by Jackson & Graham for Carlton House Terrace, The Magazine of Art (n.d., 1879) comments ‘excepting where the exigencies of utility assert themselves in respect of flat and straight surfaces for tables and such like, curved lines are always employed’ (p. 142). The present table illustrates this point as well as demonstrating ‘propositions’ explained by Jones in his seminal Grammar of Ornament, London, 1856. For example, ‘In surface decoration all lines should flow out of a parent stem’ (Proposition 11) and ‘Flowers or other natural objects should not be used as ornaments, but conventional representatives founded upon them sufficiently suggestive to convey the intended image to mind, without destroying the unity of the object they are employed to decorate’ (Proposition 13).

The London International Exhibition, 1874, included an exhibition of ‘Works by the Late Owen Jones’. The descriptions are brief, but included many loans from Alfred Morrison. These include a ‘Table, in Inlaid Woods’ (no. 81) and a ‘Writing table, in Inlaid Woods’ (no. 85).

Other surviving furniture with directly comparable marquetry decoration, and thought to be from Carlton House Terrace, includes the monogrammed piano, sold by the Russell Cotes Museum and now at Sewerby Hall, Bridlington, two armchairs divided between the Art Institute of Chicago and the Carnegie Museum of Art (H. Blairman & Sons, Furniture and Works of Art (1997), no. 14) and a magnificent cabinet with Harris Lindsay (Works of Art, no. 14, pp. 10–11).

A second table of the same design, with restorations to the marquetry, surfaced in 2016

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