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Made by: Jean-Francois Oeben (Style of)

On view in: French Drawing Room

About this object

This table, covered with floral marquetry of great delicacy, is an excellent example of the creation of new furniture forms in the eighteenth century to satisfy the demands of a sophisticated clientele who aspired to a life of increasing comfort and privacy. This table could function both as a reading desk and as a dressing table. Its pull-out drawer is fitted with a reading desk that, when turned, displays a mirror. Several compartments for writing implements and cosmetics complete the interior. It is attributed to Jean-François Oeben, who became cabinetmaker to Louis XV, and whose pupil, Jean-Henri Riesener, would later occupy the same post under Louis XVI.

The table is rectangular in shape with serpentine sides, and is supported on four cabriole legs, mounted with acanthus motifs at the knees, and sabots at the bottom ends. Under the front rail is a trick lock mechanism which opens the front drawer to reveal a writing pad; this lifts up and becomes a reading desk; when turned over it displays a mirror. At either side of the writing pad is a marquetry panel, both of which are hinged and lift up. Under the right panel are compartments for writing materials, and a panel in the bottom slides back to reveal a secret compartment. Under the left panel is a whole drawer that when lifted displays another secret section. The top, sides, back and drawers are all covered with profuse floral marquetry, partitioned by curving ribbon-like bands. The central cartouche at the top is decorated with several symbols of rustic life including a rake, a watering jug, a basket of flowers, and a hoe, topped by two floral swags, suspended from a ribbon with two birds perched on them. This is surrounded by four cartouches with trelliswork. The emblem of war on the left contains a helmet, a shield, a quiver, and a halberd. Motifs of rustic life - a straw hat, a staff, a backet, a horn, and some flowers - fill the right one. A smaller hunting trophy at the top consists of a hunting horn, a rifle, a quiver, a dead bird, and a stag's head.

Object name:
Made from:
Wood marquetry; tulipwood (interior) -- gilt bronze
Made in:
Paris, France
Date made:
72.4 × 80 × 43.8 cm (28 1/2 × 31 1/2 × 17 1/4 in.)

Detailed information for this item

Catalog number:
Signature marks:
STAMP Boichod [Underneath] STAMP L U G/C.. On the green leather writing pad Partial stamp LABEL "A Louis XV Ormolu Mounted Table inlaid tulip and other woods. The top has a brilliant emerald green background on which is worked birds, birds, flowers, and trophies. Center writing slope. Stamped L.U.C.Y. with fleur-de-lys. From the Collection of Sur [sic] Philip Grey Egerton, Oulton Park, Cheshire. An inscription in the drawer states that this Table belonged to Marie Antoinette and was bought in Paris from Vache by the Revd. Grey Egerton, and brought to Oulton Park in 1825. Exhibited at the Arts and Treasures Exbn. Manchester 1857." [Inside] LABEL "C6r42" [Inside] LABEL "A Cabinet, in marqueterie, mounted in ormolu, 2 ft. 8 in. long by 1 ft. 6 in. wide, and 2 ft. 6 in. high. The inlay is in tulip and other ornamental woods, on a green background, and represents flowers, scrolls, and trophies. The top slides back and discloses an escritoire, work box, and mirror, with drawers and sliding panels contrived with much ingenuity. The interior is of tulip wood, inlaid with bouquets pf flowers in various coloured woods. This choice piece of furniture once belonged to the unfortunate Marie Antoinette. I was purchased of Vaché in Paris in 1825. It was exhibited in the Arts Treasures Exhibition at Manchester in 1857." [Inside drawer]
Credit line:
Bequest of Marjorie Merriweather Post, 1973