Secretary Cabinet

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

Image actions

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

Date:

c. 1775

Artist:

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.

On View

European Decorative Art, Gallery 233

Artist

David Roentgen

Title

Secretary Cabinet

Origin

Neuwied

Date

1770–1780

Medium

Walnut veneered with various woods and gilt-bronze mounts

Dimensions

Top: 150.5 × 139.1 × 36.8 cm (59 1/4 × 54 3/4 × 14 1/2 in.); Bottom: 106.4 × 137.8 × 61.3 cm (41 7/8 × 54 1/4 × 24 1/8 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Count Pecci-Blunt

Reference Number

1954.21

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

Share

Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions

Share