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The inventive talents of David Roentgen are evident in this exceptionally refined desk. The monogram "DR" inlaid beneath the keyhole on the lower drawer indicates the cabinetmaker's satisfaction with one of his most mechanically ingenuous creations: a single key inserted at different depths unlocks the center drawer, releases the rolltop, or releases the hidden side drawers; if a button is pressed on the underside of these drawers, each swings aside to reveal three other drawers. Above the rolltop, the rectangular structure consists of a single wide drawer. The artist's creativity is evident in the chinoiserie marquetry scenes, created by using minute pieces of naturally colored exotic woods that have a painterly effect.
See Collections to learn more about this desk.
This desk is featured in the exhibition Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens (on view October 30, 2012–January 27, 2013).
David Roentgen: Long-Case Clock
The Roentgens' Berlin Secretary Cabinet
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Rolltop Desk by David Roentgen: Demonstration
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Rolltop Desk by David Roentgen: Animation
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Teapot with storks
Pair of seated figures with globes
Cup and saucer with butterflies
Jar with cover
Pharmacy jar with cover
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This artwork is currently on display in Gallery 201
The imitation of Japanese porcelain was a priority at Chantilly, where the prince de Condé established a porcelain factory in 1730. His collection of Asian ceramics may have served as direct models for pieces made at Chantilly. This jar copies a Japanese form. The painted scenes are derived from print by Jean-Antoine Fraisse (ca. 1680–1739), whose Book of Chinese Designs (1735) was a source of motifs for the factory’s painters.
Marking: Hunting horn (in red on base)
Mme. Helen Dupuy (until 1948; sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, April 2–3, 1948, no. 131; sold to Wilson)
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