A George III “Harlequin” Pembroke Table in the Manner of Henry Kettle

Height: 28" 71cm
Width: 37 1/4" 94.5cm
Depth: 29" 73.5cm
Origination: English
Circa: 1785

The rectangular satinwood top with yew-wood panels to the centre of each section above two drawers with dummy drawers to the reverse and supported on four square tapering legs terminating in brass box castors. The table being of excellent colour and quality.

Hepplewhite described pembroke tables as the most useful tables of their class and certainly this is borne out by the literature of the time. In Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’ the heroine talks about her father taking his meals on one. Jane Austen also wrote to her sister when some new furniture was delivered to Steventon, that her mother kept all her papers in a pembroke table and further sources mention ladies doing their embroidery at these tables.

Considering the popularity of the pembroke table it is not suprising that an ingenious variety termed ‘harlequin pembroke table’ appears towards the end of the century. The distinctive feature being a box-like structure, fitted with small drawers and pigeon holes which is concealed in the body of the table and by means of weights rises up above the top.

There are several tables, many of which are labelled, which bear striking similarities to the one illustrated. Most notably the rectangular flaps with geometric inlay and the oval panel to the centre.
See Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture, 1700 – 1840, figs 543, 556.

A Pair of harlequin pembroke tables, clearly made by the same maker are illustrated in ‘English Furniture 1500 – 1840’ by Geoffrey Beard & Judith Goodison. Page 213, Plates 7 & 8.
It is worth quoting the authors comments. “This is a versatile table, one of a pair, made in the manner of Mayhew & Ince. Makers in the Late Eighteenth century rose above mere competence to near virtuosity in creating and assembling increasingly lavish furniture – ingenious, fitted, capable of several functions, yet still elegant and satisfying.”

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