A53.70 | Table
About 1850, 19th century
93.5 x 144 cm
Gift of Mrs. W.R. Miles
This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum
Keys to History
Asian craftsmen, whose stone-carving skills were adapted to exotic materials such as teak and rosewood, catered splendidly to the Victorian penchant for dark, massive and intricately carved pieces of furniture. Usually imported into England and North America, this type of furniture reflects western shapes and uses not typically associated with their country of origin.
This rosewood and marble table is believed to have been made by Burmese prisoners in Bombay and exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London. It was purchased by a wealthy merchant and then shipped to Ceylon. Many years later, an agent for the Red Rose Tea Company, Saint John, sent it to the company's owner, Mr. Estabrooks.
Source : The Golden Age of Sail [Web tour], by New Brunswick Museum (see Links)
The carved skirt motifs represent Chinese figures, an odd choice given the table's Bombay origins.
The fact that the tea agent was in Ceylon reflects the changing tastes in the West, from Chinese green tea to the black teas of India by the early 20th century.
The 1851 Exhibition was the first of the great international exhibitions. The inclusion of the table indicates the importance of India to Britain in the 19th century.
Although the table was intended for the owner of the Red Rose Tea Company, the company's tea taster, Walter Miles, kept it.