National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Lean-to Writing Desk (table à abbattant) Attributed to Pierre Migeon II
Pierre Migeon II (cabinetmaker)
French, 1701 - 1758
Lean-to Writing Desk (table à abbattant), c. 1750
veneered on oak with tulipwood, purplewood and kingwood; gilded bronze mounts
overall: 76.7 x 71.7 x 43.3 cm (30 3/16 x 28 1/4 x 17 1/16 in.)
Widener Collection
1942.9.424
Not on View
From the Tour: Rococo Decorative Arts of the Mid-1700s
Object 4 of 7

Arabesques of curling lobes and cusps characterized earlier rococo design. For variety here, the pale tulipwood veneer of the background is arranged in fan shapes within the dark scrolls of purple-wood. Later, in the mid-eighteenth century, floral patterns would become fashionable.

Somewhat larger than most ladies’ desks, this one has steel rods that, when pulled out, support its opened lid as a writing surface. The interior has two tiers of drawers; the lower set, hidden beneath a sliding, false bottom, protected valuables and private papers.

Trained by his father, Pierre II Migeon apparently never officially became a master craftsman, presumably because he was a Calvinist, and guild regulations in Paris prohibited membership by Protestants. Even so, he was a favorite of Madame de Pompadour.

Migeon was a marchand-ébéniste (merchant-cabinetmaker), meaning he not only made his own furniture but also acted as a dealer for other artisans. His stamp on this writing desk, therefore, proves only that he sold it and is not conclusive evidence that it is his own work.

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