Tradition has it that Empress Marie-Louise presented this easel to her painting teacher, the miniaturist Jean-Baptiste Isabey. Constructed from mahogany, it bears the monogram of Napoleon’s last consort near the top. Easels were regularly found in the painter’s studio and often pictured in artists’ self-portraits, such as the Adélaïde Labille-Guiard’s 1785 painting with two pupils, also in the museum’s collection (53.255.5). Less commonly considered as pieces of domestic furniture, this Empire period example suggests that painting was practiced as a pastime among women of elite rank even after the fall of the Old Regime. This easel is similar to a model executed by Jacob Desmalter and owned by Marie-Louise, located today at the Château de Fontainebleau.
Inscription: Monogram: ML within a wreath (Empress Marie-Louise, Duchess of Parma)
Reputedly Empress Marie Louise of France ; Reputedly Eugène Isabey ; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman , New York (until 1972; to MMA)
Artist: Jean-François Oeben (French, born Germany, Heisenberg 1721–1763 Paris)Date: ca. 1761–63Medium: Oak veneered with mahogany, kingwood, and tulipwood, with marquetry of mahogany, rosewood, holly, and various other woods; gilt-bronze mounts; imitation Japanese lacquer; replaced silkAccession: 1982.60.61On view in:Gallery 539
Artist: André Charles Boulle (French, Paris 1642–1732 Paris)Date: ca. 1710–20Medium: Walnut veneered with ebony, marquetry of engraved brass and tortoiseshell, gilt-bronze mounts, verd antique marbleAccession: 1982.60.82On view in:Gallery 542
Artist: Attributed to Martin Carlin (French, near Freiburg im Breisgau ca. 1730–1785 Paris)Date: ca. 1775Medium: Oak veneered with tulipwood, sycamore, holly, and ebonized holly; gilt bronze, soft-paste porcelain, velvet (not original)Accession: 1976.155.109On view in:Gallery 529