1949 - 1970
J. Paul Getty, American, 1892 - 1976, donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1970.
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Currently on view at: Getty Center, Museum South Pavilion, Gallery S107
Mechanical Reading, Writing, and Toilette Table
Jean-François Oeben (French, born Germany, 1721 - 1763, master 1761)
Paris, France (Place Created)
White oak veneered with bloodwood, kingwood, amaranth, padauk, barberry, holly, boxwood, sycamore, tulipwood, hornbeam, ebony, cedar; drawer of juniper; gilt-bronze mounts; brass and iron mechanism and lock; silk
73 × 74 × 37.8 cm (28 3/4 × 29 1/8 × 14 7/8 in.)
Gift of J. Paul Getty
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.
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