Mechanical Reading, Writing, and Toilette Table

Object Details

Title:

Mechanical Reading, Writing, and Toilette Table

Artist/Maker:

Jean-François Oeben (French, born Germany, 1721 - 1763, master 1761)

Culture:

French

Place:

Paris, France (Place created)

Date:

1750

Medium:

Oak veneered with kingwood, amaranth, bloodwood, holly, and various stained exotic woods; drawers of juniper; iron mechanism; silk; gilt-bronze mounts

Dimensions:

73 × 74 × 37.8 cm (28 3/4 × 29 1/8 × 14 7/8 in.)

Credit Line:

Gift of J. Paul Getty

See more

See less

With the turn of a key in the small hole in the table's side, the top automatically slides back and the drawer below opens, revealing lidded compartments and a book rest. The mechanism is activated by interior springs, which are tightened by winding another key.

Jean-François Oeben, the ébéniste who made this table, was a particularly talented maker of mechanical furniture and was given the special privilege to forge his own metal fittings. He specialized in elaborate, multi-purpose pieces of furniture that he decorated with floral marquetry of stained woods. On this table a naturalistic bouquet of tulips, daffodils, roses, and other flowers spreads across the top surface, loosely tied with a ribbon. Originally the marquetry was vibrantly dyed, but the colors have faded and only the green shades remain.

Provenance
- 1949

B. Fabre & Fils (Paris, France)

-

and Cameron (London, England), sold to J. Paul Getty, 1949.

1949 - 1970

J. Paul Getty, American, 1892 - 1976, donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1970.

Exhibitions
Paris: Life & Luxury (April 26, 2011 to January 2, 2012) (7)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), April 26 to August 7, 2011
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, September 18, 2011 to January 2, 2012
Bibliography

Getty, J. Paul, and Ethel Le Vane. Collector's Choice: The Chronicle of an Artistic Odyssey through Europe (London: W. H. Allen, 1955), n.p, ill. p.167-168.

Wescher, Paul. "French Furniture of the Eighteenth Century in the J. Paul Getty Museum," Art Quarterly 18, no. 2 (Summer 1955), pp. 118, 129, fig. 12.

Getty, J. Paul. "Vingt Mille Lieues dans les musées." Connaissance des Arts 57 (November 1956), p. 80, ill.

Getty, J. Paul. Chefs-d'oeuvre de la collection J. Paul Getty (Monaco: Jaspard, Polus & Cie, 1963), p. 123, ill.

Boutemy, André. “Jean-François Oeben Méconnu.” Gazette des beaux-arts 63 (April 1964), p. 215, fig. 23, ill.

Getty, J. Paul. The Joys of Collecting (New York: Hawthorn Books, Inc., 1965), p. 153, ill.

Siguret, Philippe. Le Style Louis XV (Paris: Société français du livre, 1965), p. 78-79, ill.

Bremer-David, Charissa, et al. Decorative Arts: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue of the Collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1993), p. 51, no. 66, ill.

Ramond, Pierre. Chefs d'oeuvre des marqueteurs. Vol. 3, Marqueteurs d'exception (Dourdan: Éditions H. Vial, 1999), p. 15-18, ill.

Ramond, Pierre. Masterpieces of Marquetry. Vol. 3, Outstanding Marqueters (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2000), p. 15-18, ill.

Stratmann-Döhler, Rosemarie. Jean-François Oeben, 1721-1763 (Paris: Éditions de l’Amateur, 2002), p. 98-99, 184, no. 135.

Bremer-David, Charissa, ed. Paris: Life & Luxury in the Eighteenth Century, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011), pp. 70-71, 116, fig. 47, no. 7.

Gaston, Teddy Getty, with Digby Diehl. Alone Together: My Life with J. Paul Getty (New York: Ecco, 2013), ill. between pp. 384-385.