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Secretary Cabinet

A work made of walnut veneered with various woods and gilt-bronze mounts.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of walnut veneered with various woods and gilt-bronze mounts.


c. 1775


Germany, Neuwied
David Roentgen (German, 1743–1807)

About this artwork

David Roentgen was a German craftsman and entrepreneur who made furniture for some of the grandest patrons in Europe, including Catherine the Great of Russia, Frederick the Great of Prussia, and Marie Antoinette of France. A brilliant artist in marquetry, Roentgen employed twenty varieties of wood in this desk, including American black walnut, which European craftsmen first began using at just this time.

The desk’s form is inspired by a design for a desk and bookcase in the English furniture maker Thomas Chippendale’s book The Gentleman and Cabinet Makers Director, published in 1754. Roentgen adapted Chippendale’s design, changing the top to a broken scrolled pediment more in keeping with the German Rococo style. The marquetry designs conjure exotic figures standing on what look like dilapidated stage sets. The depiction of these half-ruined structures became occasions for marquetry cutters to display their virtuosity. Details of birds and trees add to the charming decoration, in which the playful fantasy characteristic of chinoiserie is given free rein.


Currently Off View


Applied Arts of Europe


David Roentgen (Cabinetmaker)


Secretary Cabinet


Neuwied (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Walnut veneered with various woods and gilt-bronze mounts


257.9 × 152.1 × 62 cm (101 1/2 × 59 7/8 × 24 3/8 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Count Pecci-Blunt

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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