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Made c.1845 by Michelangelo Barberi (1787-1867), the 3ft 4in (1.02m) diameter top features 20 individual micromosaic roundels and ovals representing the four epochs of Rome, including a central view of St Peter’s Piazza (see detail inset). The base of ebony and ebonised oak is applied with shell and acanthus mounts plus three dramatic griffon and paw supports.

Only three other examples of these Chronological Rome tables by Barberi are known – one in the Hermitage, St Petersburg, one in the Gilbert collection, London and
another commissioned by Baron Broderick, sixth Viscount Middleton (1791-1863). By family repute, the Newbury table was purchased by Robert Frederick Brownlow Rushbrooke (1814-1870), while on the Grand Tour, for Rushbrooke Hall, Bury St Edmunds. Although the house burnt down in 1920, the table appears in an interior photograph of Rushbrooke Hall in 1903.

Nine telephone bidders from America, France, Italy and the UK competed for the finely-preserved table above its £50,000-£80,000 estimate before it was bought by Bond Street dealers Partridge Fine Art. John Partridge, who said the firm bought the table for stock, described his purchase as one of the great tables of this period. “Apart from the outstanding top, the base is exceptional and, in my opinion, this makes it better than the example in the Gilbert collection.”