Writing Table (bureau plat)

Object Details


Writing Table (bureau plat)


Attributed to Joseph Baumhauer (French, died 1772)




Paris, France (Place created)


about 1745 - 1749


Oak and ash veneered with bloodwood on oak carcass; gilt bronze mounts; modern leather top


78.9 × 181.3 × 100.6 cm (31 1/16 × 71 3/8 × 39 5/8 in.)

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Craftsmen of the 1700s used the highly adaptable material of gilt bronze in numerous ways, as decorative mounts for furniture, clocks, ceramics, and light fittings. On this large desk, the elaborate gilt bronze mounts form the main decoration. Gilt bronze frames the drawer fronts with rich sprays and floral clusters, while shell-like corner mounts taper down the legs into leafy scrolling feet known as sabots. Shells and vines even decorate the lock plate.

Scholars believe that Louis XV gave this table to the empress of Russia in 1745. In the 1800s it stood in the Oranienbaum Palace near Saint Petersburg.

1745 - 1762

Possibly Empress Elizabeth of Russia, 1709 - 1762, given to her by king Louis XV of France, 1745, and then by inheritance to Catherine II of Russia.

1745 -

or possibly Count Vorontsov (Vorontsov Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia), purchased in Paris, 1745.


Empress Catherine II of Russia, 1729 - 1796, either by inheritance from empress Elizabeth of Russia, 1762; or purchased with the Vorontsov Palace, St. Petersburg.

by 1904 - 1919

Helen, duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz , princess of Saxe-Altenburg (Cabinet de la Souveraine, Chinese Palace, Oranienbaum, near St. Petersburg, Russia), seized by the revolutionary government and nationalized during the Russian Revolution.

1919 - 1931

Soviet government, sold through the Russian dealer Mr. Iljin in Berlin to Duveen Brothers, 1931.

1931 - 1935

Duveen Brothers, Inc., purchased from the Soviet government through the Russian dealer Mr. Iljin in Berlin, 1931. Transferred to the New York office of Duveen, by 1932. Sold to Mrs. Dillman (Dodge), 1935.

1935 - 1970

Anna Thomson Dodge, American, born Scotland, 1871 - 1970 (Rose Terrace, Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan)

1970 - 1971

Estate of Anna Thomson Dodge, American, born Scotland, 1871 - 1970 [sold, Christie's, London, June 24, 1971, lot 98, to the J. Paul Getty Museum]

Education Resources

Education Resource




Looking at French Decorative Arts: Appropriate and Innovate

Students will learn the term appropriation, the contemporary art practice of borrowing elements to create a new work of art.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts


Single Class Lesson