In part by David Roentgen and/or his workshop; in part by an unknown craftsmen, probably French or German 19th Century|
David Roentgen (cabinetmaker)
German, 1743 - 1807
Anonymous Artist (cabinetmaker)
French 19th Century (cabinetmaker)
German 19th Century (cabinetmaker)
David Roentgen (related artist)
German, 1743 - 1807
Writing Table with Mechanical Fittings (table mécanique or schreibtisch), partly c. 1779, partly 19th century
oak carcass; pictorial marquetry principally of sycamore, rosewood, applewood with some traces of coloring, and boxwood; table veneered principally with tulipwood, amboyna, ebony, and boxwood; interior fittings of Cuban mahogany; gilded bronze and brass mounts; steel mechanical fitments
overall: 76.7 x 143 x 75.5 cm (30 3/16 x 56 5/16 x 29 3/4 in.)
Object 6 of 6
David Roentgen worked near Frankfurt in his native Germany. Through extensive travels and his showrooms in Berlin, Vienna, and Paris, he supplied furniture to most of Europe's royal courts. Roentgen was famed for pictorial veneer like the Music Party on top of this large neoclassical piece. Copying a design by the painter Januarius Ziek (1730-1796), Roentgen reproduced the picture in such detail that the musical scores are legible enough to be performed!
Roentgen's passion for intricate woodwork was matched by his zeal for complicated mechanisms. This desk's drawers automatically unfold into complex storage areas with many secret compartments.
The flat top's Music Party may once have been a slanted fall-front panel. In the picture's upper center, a wood plug fills what may have been an original keyhole. The drawer units also have been reinstalled in the present table, whose legs and body are early nineteenth-century substitutions for lost elements of an entirely different piece of furniture.
In 1779, Roentgen had sold to Louis XVI a huge, upright secretary-bookcase, including a clock and musical organ, for the highest price paid by the French crown for furniture during the eighteenth century. King Frederick the Great of Prussia and the duke of Lorraine both commissioned simpler variations of that fantastic piece. The National Gallery's table probably incorporates fragments of yet another version.
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