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Watch as this desk's hidden features are revealed.
The richly embellished surface of this rolltop desk conceals a wealth of mechanical surprises and features, including a spectacular arrangement of almost forty compartments and drawers. Abraham (1711–1793) and David Roentgen (1743–1807) designed this table not just for writing and reading but also to function as a dressing table, or poudreuse.
This table, from Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens in Washington, D.C., is featured in the exhibition Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens (on view October 30, 2012–January 27, 2013).
Learn more about this object: http://trio.hillwoodmuseum.org/detail.php?t=objects&type=related&kv=13072
Footage courtesy of Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens.
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Commode à vantaux
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This artwork is currently on display in Gallery 553
The case recalls prototypes published in Thomas Chippendale’s Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director. Below the main clock dial are the signs of the zodiac and the phases of the moon. The ring of auxiliary dials indicates the most important cities of the day (clockwise): Philadelphia. / Mexico/ Peking. / Hispahan. / Cas=Bon=Spei. [Constantinople] / Cairo. / Rom. / Lisabon/ / Londen. / St. Petersburg. Philadelphia, where the declaration of Independence would be adopted on July 4, 1776, was known worldwide for its importance as a harbor and trading center. The clock could be the one that Charles Alexander of Lorraine returned to Roentgen as partial payment for the Brussels secretary cabinet in 1776. Inside were a miniature organ and a dulcimer (now lost).A recording of the music from a similar clock (collection of Count zu Eltz), featuring compositions by Christoph Willibald Gluck, will play in the gallery once an hour.
Signature: Achenbach & Schmidt à Neuwied (on zodiac dial); REUSCH (marquetry signed on front of pendulum case)Inscription: Dials inscribed: PHILADELPHIA, MEXICO, PEKING, HISPAHAN, CAS-BON-SPEI, CAIRO, ROM, LISABON, LONDEN, ST. PETERSBURG
probably made for Duke Charles Alexander of Lorraine and delivered to Brussels before 1776 ; taken back in August 1776 by David Roentgen in partial payment for a secretary cabinet ; possibly the landgraves of Hessen-Kassel ; acquired by Edgar Worch from the Hessen family after WWI ; his wife, Mrs. Edgar Worch (until 1975; to MMA)
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