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: Jean Henri Riesener (French, Gladbeck, North Rhine-Westphalia 1734–1806 Paris) Date: ca. 1790Medium: Oak, pine, mahogany, and mahogany veneer; gilt-bronze mounts; Carrara marble top and shelfAccession: 1977.102.8On view in:Gallery 527
Artist: Martin Carlin (French, near Freiburg im Breisgau ca. 1730–1785 Paris) Date: ca. 1768Medium: Oak veneered with tulipwood, amaranth, and stained sycamore; mahogany; seventeen soft-paste porcelain plaques; gilt-bronze mounts; velvet (not original)Accession: 58.75.48On view in:Gallery 899
Artist: Jean Henri Riesener (French, Gladbeck, North Rhine-Westphalia 1734–1806 Paris) Date: 1781Medium: Oak veneered with mahogany and marquetry of bois satiné, sycamore, holly, ebonized holly fillets, and bayberry, the top with an amaranth border; gilt-bronze mounts; mirror glass; iron and brass fittings; green velvet (not original)Accession: 49.7.117On view in:Gallery 899