Watch a video to find out.
Stay logged in
Go to Navigation
Go to Content
Go to Search
Search the collections
Please enable flash to view this media. Download the flash player.
Please enable flash to view this media.
Download the flash player.
See how this desk converts into a dressing table.
When closed, this table may not seem like one of the most complex pieces of European furniture ever made. However, once opened, its concealed drawers and hidden features are exposed, and the entire piece transforms into a dressing table, orpoudreuse. Scholars believe it was commissioned as a wedding gift from Abraham (1711–1793) and David Roentgen (1743–1807) by Friedrich August III, Elector of Saxony, to his bride in 1769.
This table, from Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt, is featured in the exhibition Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens (on view October 30, 2012–January 27, 2013).
Images courtesy of Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt.
David Roentgen: Long-Case Clock
The Roentgens' Berlin Secretary Cabinet
(00:02:20) 10523 views
Rolltop Desk by David Roentgen: Demonstration
(00:02:17) 16384 views
Rolltop Desk by David Roentgen: Animation
(00:01:00) 3001 views
Commode (à vantaux)
Browse current and upcoming exhibitions and events.
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)
© 2000–2013 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All rights reserved.