Last month I shared an 18thc gaming table that magically unfolded to accommodate several different game boards - the work of German master cabinetmaker David Roentgen (1743-1807.) Today I have another piece made by David Roentgen and his father, Abraham (1711-1793.) This is a rolltop desk, useful for reading or writing, that could transform into a poudreuse, or dressing table. Behind the elaborately embellished surfaces are nearly forty compartments and drawers that would have offered the fortunate owner a place for every possible beauty item.
The front of the desk has an elegant monogram of inlaid mother-of-pearl with an intertwined "MA" that was long believed to belong to Marie Antoinette, Queen of France. But according to the web site of Hillwood Museum, which now owns the desk, the letters more likely belong to another noteworthy lady of the 18thc, Maria Antonia, Princess of Bavaria and the Electress of Saxony.
"Maria Antonia was a talented and artistic woman....Not only was she a respected composer and patron of the arts, she also served as regent of Saxony from 1763-1768 until her son came of age. The musical instruments and other images on the marquetry reflect her artistic interests and pursuits."
More recently, the desk belonged to yet another extraordinary woman, American socialite and businesswoman Marjorie Merriweather Post, who bequeathed it to the museum.
See here for video of another amazing desk made by the Roentgens.
Rolltop desk, made by Abraham Roentgen II and David Roentgen, 1765-1770, Hillwood Museum.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.