Provenance: Thomas Jefferson; (1): by descent to Thomas Jefferson Randolph; by descent to Wilson Randolph Porterfield; by bequest to Mrs. Wilson Randolph Porterfield; by purchase to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation in 1978; (2): by descent to Benjamin Franklin Randolph; by gift or bequest to Robert Carter family; by descent to Mr. and Mrs. Robert Carter
Accession Number: 1978-49
Historical Notes: Jefferson acquired eight marble-topped tables while he was in France. Four were marble table tops with gilt borders, which returned to America in crate number forty-seven, identified as "quatre dessu de marbre de table avec bordure dores."1 Grevin, the fastidious master emballeur who packed Jefferson's belongings, made no mention of the bases for the four tables on his list. A reference to bases does appear, however, on the list of goods to be shipped from Philadelphia to Monticello in 1793, "plusieurs pieds de table" (several table bases).2 Nonetheless, the origin of the bases is unknown; they may have been made in France or America.
Only three of the original four table tops are known today, two rectangular and one nearly square. The rectangular pair with trestle bases and snake feet stood in the Entrance Hall flanking the double-acting doors leading to the Parlor. (A fourth marble top table was returned to America with its base intact.) One of the tilt-top trestle tables, now in a private collection, survives in its nearly original state — with the brass band intact, but without a gilded perforated gallery. The trestle on this table, like the tripod base on the squarer marble tilt-top table appears to have been made by an urban cabinetmaker, possibly in Philadelphia. Without specifying the nature of the work, payments were recorded in Jefferson's memorandum books to several Philadelphia cabinet makers including Henry and Joseph Ingle, Joseph Barry, and John Aitken.
The second table, in Monticello's collection, lacks its original border and gallery, and has a top that has been entirely reworked. The border was replaced by a Monticello joinery-made band of wood with mitered corners. The trestle and slipper feet appear to have been copied after the other table. The trestle has a distinctive astragal molding.