Slab Table

American1760 - 1800

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

This table was made in Philadelphia when the Rococo style was at its height. Originating in France in the 1720s, the style came to America by means of England in the late 1750s. One of the important sources for American furniture in that style was a design book published in 1754 by Thomas Chippendale.

Together with its mate in the Pendleton Collection at the Rhode Island School of Design, this slab table must have made an impressive ensemble in 18th-century Philadelphia. The tables were probably commissioned for a principal parlor, or perhaps for adjoining rooms where their placement produced a mirrored symmetry. That they were conceived as a pair is evidenced by the subtle yet complementary variations on the two pieces. For example, on this frame the carved leaves trailing down the legs curl outward, and on the Pendleton table they turn inward. The central ruffles carved on the skirts, although identical in execution, also display a paired orientation, maintaining an asymmetry consistent with Rococo dictates. Made of mahogany and topped with a marble slab, this table was the most costly of its kind.

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  • Title: Slab Table
  • Date: 1760 - 1800
  • Physical Dimensions: w126.7 x h74.9 x d57.2 cm (overall)
  • Type: Furniture
  • External Link: MFAH
  • Medium: Mahogany; southern yellow pine, white oak, and yellow-poplar; marble
  • Maker: American
  • Credit Line: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Bayou Bend Collection, gift of Miss Ima Hogg