Small writing desk (bonheur-du-jour), Martin Carlin (French, near Freiburg im Breisgau ca. 1730–1785 Paris), Oak veneered with tulipwood, amaranth, and stained sycamore; mahogany; seventeen soft-paste porcelain plaques; gilt-bronze mounts; velvet (not original), French, Paris and Sèvres

Small writing desk (bonheur-du-jour)

Maker:
Martin Carlin (French, near Freiburg im Breisgau ca. 1730–1785 Paris)
Factory:
Porcelain plaques by Sèvres Manufactory (French, 1740–present)
Decorator:
Jean-Jacques Pierre the Younger (French, active 1763–1800)
Date:
ca. 1774
Culture:
French, Paris and Sèvres
Medium:
Oak veneered with tulipwood, amaranth, and stained sycamore; mahogany; seventeen soft-paste porcelain plaques; gilt-bronze mounts; velvet (not original)
Dimensions:
Overall: 32 1/2 × 25 7/8 × 16 in. (82.6 × 65.7 × 40.6 cm)
Classification:
Woodwork-Furniture
Credit Line:
Gift of Samuel H. Kress Foundation, 1958
Accession Number:
58.75.49
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 529
The 1795 inventory of furniture belonging to Louis XVI's sister-in-law, Marie-Thérèse of Savoy, comtesse d'Artois (1756–1805), gives a description of a similar desk, or bonheur du jour, which may refer to this piece. The drawer has a compartment that originally held an inkwell, a sponge trough, and box for sand. Its hinged writing surface could be lifted up, and writing implements could be stored underneath.
Signature: Signed by Martin Carlin twice under the left apron, with two sets of the joined initials JME of the cabinetmaker's jury.

Marking: Painted in varying shades of gray on eleven plaques: [1] crossed L's enclosing V (Sèvres factory mark and date letter for 1774); [2] P' (decorator's mark of Pierre jeune)

Painted in varying shades of gray on three plaques: [1] crossed L's enclosing illegible date letter (Sèvres factory mark); [2] P' (decorator's mark of Pierre jeune).

Notes:
Three plaques unmarked.
Sir Charles Mills, Baronet ; The Lords Hillingdon ; The Samuel H. Kress Foundation (until 1958)