The inspiration for the design of the claw and ball foot came from a Chinese motif of a dragon’s claw clutching a pearl or crystal ball. Often associated with the cabriole leg (a symbol of 18th century furniture), good examples of the claw and ball foot can be found in Chippendale and Queen Anne furniture, as well as some Georgian pieces. It was first developed in Europe by the Dutch in the early 1700’s, and made its way to America about 30 years later. The style of the carving generally seen in England is a lion’s paw, and an eagle’s talon in America.
Burled walnut Queen Anne dressing table, England c.1760
Irish Chippendale armchairs in mahogany, late 18th c.
Chippendale mahogany drop-leaf table, America c.1780
(Images via 1stdibs)