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Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens

Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens

Various authors
2012
304 pages
293 illustrations
Winner, Outstanding Monographic Catalogue, The AAMC Awards for Excellence (2013)
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During the second half of the 18th century, the workshop of Abraham and David Roentgen at Neuwied on the Rhine was among Europe's most successful cabinetmaking enterprises, employing at its height nearly two hundred specialized artisans. The Roentgens' ingenious inventions combined innovative designs with intriguing mechanical devices that revolutionized traditional types of European furniture. Key to their success was the pairing of the skilled craftsman Abraham with his boldly entrepreneurial son David, whose clients included the most prominent sovereigns of Europe, among them Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette of France, Catherine the Great of Russia, and Frederick William II of Prussia. In addition, the Roentgens perfected the practice of adapting prefabricated elements and elaborate trompe l'oeil marquetry panels to the specifications of their customers.

Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens is the first comprehensive English-language survey of the firm in nearly fifty years, from its founding in 1742 to its closing in the early 1800s. Detailed discussions explain the intricate workings of these extraordinary pieces and are complemented by illustrations showing them in their contemporary interiors. Design drawings, portraits of the cabinetmakers and their patrons, and previously unpublished historical documents from the Roentgen estate further illuminate the work of these master craftsmen. An essential contribution to the study of European furniture, this fascinating book firmly establishes the Roentgens as the principal Continental European cabinetmakers of the ancien régime.

Commode à vantaux, David Roentgen  German, Oak, pine, walnut, mahogany, and cherry veneered with hornbeam (partially stained), tulipwood, walnut, holly and maple (both partially stained), boxwood, mahogany, and other woods; red brocatelle marble; gilt bronze; iron, steel, and brass, German, Neuwied am Rhein
Multiple artists/makers
ca. 1775–79 with later alterations
Allegory on the Marriage of the Dauphin and Marie-Antoinette in 1770, Gabriel de Saint-Aubin  French, Brush and gray wash, accents in pen and brown ink, over black chalk. Framing lines in pen and brown ink; margins tinted with blue-green wash.
1770
Louis XVI, King of France, Anonymous, French, 18th century  French
1783
Marie Antoinette, Marie Louise Adélaide Boizot  French, Etching
Multiple artists/makers
1775
David Roentgen and Company in Saint Petersburg, Johann Friedrich Anthing  German, Cut paper with ink wash and watercolor
ca. 1784–86
Tea chest, Abraham Roentgen  German, Oak, cedar, veneered with rosewood; brass, iron, and steel, German, Neuwied am Rhein
ca. 1750–55
Upright Baskets of Flowers, Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer  French, Engraving
before 1690
Oval table, David Roentgen  German, Oak, walnut, pine, cherry, and maple, veneered with maple, hornbeam, holly (all partially stained), cherry, mahogany, tulipwood, and other woods; gilt bronze, iron, brass, steel; partially tooled and gilded leather, German, Neuwied am Rhein
ca. 1774–80
Desk and Bookcase, from Chippendale Drawings, Vol. II, Thomas Chippendale  British, Black ink, gray wash
1753
Longcase clock, Hermann Achenbach  German, Case: oak veneered with maple, burl woods, holly, and hornbeam (all partly stained), and other woods; mother-of-pearl; gilded bronze; and brass; Dial: partly gilded and partly silvered brass and enameled and painted copper; Movement: brass and steel, German, Neuwied am Rhein
Multiple artists/makers
ca. 1774–75
Clock Cases, in Chippendale Drawings, Vol. I, Thomas Chippendale  British, Pen and black ink, brush and gray wash
1754
Rolltop desk, David Roentgen  German, Oak, pine, walnut, cherry, tulipwood, and mahogany (later drawers), veneered with maple hornbeam (both partially stained), tulipwood, burl wood (stained), mahogany, holly, walnut, and other woods; gilt bronze, brass, steel, and iron; marble; partially tooled and gilded leather, German, Neuwied am Rhein
ca. 1780
Rolltop desk, David Roentgen  German, Oak, cherry, pine, mahogany, veneered with maple, burl woods, holly, hornbeam (all partially stained), tulipwood, mahogany, and other woods; mother-of-pearl; partially gilded and tooled leather; gilt bronze, iron, steel, brass, partially gold-lacquered brass, German, Neuwied am Rhein
Multiple artists/makers
ca. 1776–79
Manufacturer's Catalogue of Hardware, Anonymous, British, 18th century  British, Illustrations: engraving
18th century
Frieze ornament depicting the theme of reading and writing, Gilt bronze, French or German
French or German
before 1783
Game table, David Roentgen  German, Oak and walnut, veneered with mahogany, maple, holly (the last two partially stained); iron, steel, brass, gilt bronze; felt and partially tooled and gilded leather, German, Neuwied am Rhine
ca. 1780–83
Clock, David Roentgen  German, Oak, pine, and mahogany, veneered with mahogany; brass, gilt bronze and enamel, German, Neuwied am Rhein
ca. 1780–90
Allegory of Science, François Rémond  French, Gilt bronze, French
ca. 1785–90

View Citations

Koeppe, Wolfram, and Reinier Baarsen. 2012. Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens. New York : New Haven: Metropolitan Museum of Art ; Distributed by Yale University Press.