Abraham Roentgen (German, 1711–1793)
Walnut, beech, oak, veneered with walnut and birch (partially stained and painted with colored washes); green silk (replacement); 43 1/4 x 87 3/8 x 29 1/8 in. (110 x 222 x 74 cm)
Private Collection (L.2007.20)
Johann Philipp von Walderdorff was Abraham Roentgen’s best client, purchasing more than two dozen Roentgen pieces while serving as archbishop and elector of Trier from 1756–68. He commissioned this sofa but was slow to pay, as evident from a receipt dated 1765 for a partial payment, signed by David Roentgen. The two putti in the central cartouche of the crest, symbolizing Architecture, reflect Walderdorff’s passion for building. With its bulging shape and naturalistic rocaille marquetry, the sofa embodies the Rhenish Rococo style at its best. The remarkable feet represent the hooves of horses instead of the cloven hooves of cattle or deer. Various stains and color washes applied to the marquetry surfaces produced a painterly effect. These surface applications were protected by only a thin coat of varnish and were thus prone to fading and loss, yet their effect is still in evidence. The grapevines represent the fertile vineyards of the Rhineland and the Mosel River valley, part of the elector’s domain. Eighteenth-century palace furnishings reflected the rigorous social order of the ceremonial seating of a princely court—it was an honor to sit on the sofa, as it was restricted for the most important guests.