Mechanical Reading, Writing, and Toilette Table

Object Details

Title:

Mechanical Reading, Writing, and Toilette Table

Artist/Maker(s):

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

Culture:

French

Date:

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

Credit Line:

Gift of J. Paul Getty

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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.

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

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.