National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Work and Writing Table (table en chiffonnière) Bernard van Risenburgh II (cabinetmaker)
French, active c. 1730 - 1765/1766
Work and Writing Table (table en chiffonnière), c. 1750/1760
veneered partly on oak and partly on pine with tulipwood, purplewood, crosscut kingwood, and casuarina; gilded bronze mounts
overall: 66.8 x 42 x 32 cm (26 5/16 x 16 9/16 x 12 5/8 in.)
Widener Collection
Not on View
From the Tour: Rococo Decorative Arts of the Mid-1700s
Object 6 of 7

Bernard II van Risamburgh inked his initials on this tiny work table. Maintaining exceptionally high standards, he ran a small studio with only three workbenches. He also perfected the technique of using an end-cut wood that produced the vibrant whorls and textures seen on the floral top here. Louis XV was among the purchasers of his luxury pieces, and a table similar to this one appears in several portraits by François Boucher of the king's mistress, Madame de Pompadour.

This table has been modified. Although the veneer is intact, the interior now holds a deep well for sewing materials. Some of the gilt-bronze mounts may be nineteenth-century replacements, and the tray that stabilizes the slender legs may also be a later addition.

(The foreign names of many craftsmen active in France can be explained, in part, by the country's religious history. In 1598, the Edict of Nantes had protected the French Protestants, or Huguenots, who were mostly merchants and artisans. When Louis XIV revoked the edict in 1685, however, many Huguenots fled. To make up for the shortage of native-born craftsmen, foreigners immigrated to France. The Gallery displays work by the Dutch-descended van Risamburgh, the Caffiéri of Italian origin, and the German-born Baumhauer, Oeben, Carlin, and Riesener. Conversely, many of the best craftsmen outside France came from refugee Huguenot families, including the colonial Boston silversmith Paul Revere.)

Full Screen Image
Artist Information

«back to gallery»continue tour