Provenance: Thomas Jefferson; by descent to Thomas Jefferson Randolph; by descent to Alex B. and Burton H. Randall; by gift to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation in 1927 in memory of Jane Harrison Randolph Randall
Accession Number: 1927-59-1 and 2
Historical Notes: This Rococo dining table consists of two freestanding rectangular drop-leaf tables that were intended to be put together to form a larger table. When fully extended, the table could seat twelve persons. In an eighteenth-century house without a separate dining room, a table such as this was typically placed against the wall when not in use. At Monticello, with its own dining room, this dining table and others were adaptably arranged to suit the number of diners. The number of dining tables suggests that at least some of them would have been placed against the wall when not in use.
The table might have come to Jefferson from George Wythe. An account of a descendant indicates that Jane Nicholas Randolph Harrison (1862-1926), the sixth child of Thomas Jefferson Randolph, said that it was referred to as the Wythe table, but no documentation is known to confirm the story.1 It might have been given to Jefferson as a wedding gift or he may have purchased it after Wythe's death. In 1806 Jefferson corresponded with William DuVal, the executor of Wythe's estate, and expressed an interest in acquiring some of Wythe's belongings. Other than the objects that Jefferson received by bequest (chairs, two large silver cups, books, a celestial globe, and scientific apparatus), he received a profile portrait of Wythe made with a physiognotrace (unlocated) in 1804. A table was not mentioned.
Each table has a fixed central board with two broad hinged drop leaves, four cabriole legs with plain knees, and claw-and-ball feet. Two of the legs are stationary, and the other two, called "fly legs," are movable in order to support the leaves.