The J. Paul Getty Museum

Writing Table (bureau plat)

Object Details


Writing Table (bureau plat)


Attributed to Joseph Baumhauer (French, died 1772)


French (Paris)


Paris, France (Place Created)


about 1745–1749


White oak and ash carcass veneered with bloodwood; drawers of white oak; gilt-bronze mounts; brass and iron hardware and lock; leather top

Object Number:



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

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Object Description

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, 1762.
Source: Ministre des Affaires Etrangères, archives diplomatique. Registres des Presens du Roy, tome 2098, fol. 30, Pierres et Bijoux des Presens du Roy, March 20, 1738-April 25, 1745.

1745 - 1763

or possibly Count Mikhail Illarionovich Vorontsov, Russian, 1714 - 1767 (Vorontsov Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia), sold to Empress Catherine II of Russia with the Vorontsov Palace, 1763.

1762 or 1763 -

Empress Catherine II of Russia, 1729 - 1796
Source: Prachoff, Adrien. Album de l'exposition retrospective d'objets d'art. Saint Petersburg: Golicke and Willborg, 1907. p. 229-231.

by 1904 - 1919

Helene, duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz , princess of Saxe-Altenburg, Russian, 1857 - 1936 (Cabinet de la Souveraine, Chinese Palace, Oranienbaum, near St. Petersburg, Russia), seized by the revolutionary government and nationalized during the Russian Revolution, 1919.
Source: Prachoff, Adrien. Album de l'exposition retrospective d'objets d'art. Saint Petersburg: Golicke and Willborg, 1907. p. 229-231.

1919 - 1931

Soviet government, Russian, sold through the Russian dealer Mr. Iljin (Berlin, Germany) to Duveen Brothers, Inc., 1931.
Source: Files regarding works of art: Pavlovsk Palace Collection, 1931-1954, Duveen Archives, Getty Research Institute, 960015, Box 271, folder 22.

1931 - 1932

Duveen Brothers, Inc., sold to Anna Thomson Dodge, 1932.
Source: Collectors' files: Dillman, Mrs. (Dodge), 1, ca. 1925-1933, Duveen Archives, Getty Research Institute, 960015, Box 442, folder 5.

1932 - 1970

Anna Thomson Dodge, American, born Scotland, 1871 - 1970 (Rose Terrace, Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan), upon her death, held in trust by the estate, 1970.
Source: Collectors' files: Dillman, Mrs. (Dodge), 1, ca. 1925-1933, Duveen Archives, Getty Research Institute, 960015, Box 442, folder 5.

1970 - 1971

Estate of Anna Thomson Dodge, American, born Scotland, 1871 - 1970 [sold, Highly Important Collection of French Furniture and Works of Art, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, June 24, 1971, lot 98, through French and Company to the J. Paul Getty Museum]
Source: French and Company invoice, June 28, 1971. Box 1986.IA.55-6, Folder 7, April 1971 - January 1971. J. Paul Getty Early Administrative Records, 1939, 1949-1986, undated. The Getty Research Institute (IA10003).

L’Exposition rétrospective d’objets d’art (February 1 to April 30, 1904)
  • Musée du baron Stieglitz (St. Petersburg), February 1 to April 30, 1904
The J. Paul Getty Collection of French Decorative Arts (October 3, 1972 to August 31, 1973)
  • The Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit), October 3, 1972 to August 31, 1973

Prachoff, Adrien. Album de l'exposition rétrospective d'objets d'art, exh. cat. (Saint Petersburg: Golicke and Willborg, 1907), pp. 229-232, pl. 7.

Roche, Denis. Le Mobilier français en russie: Meubles des XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles et du commencement du XIXe, conservés dans les palais et les musées impériaux et dans les collections privées. 2 vols. (Paris: E. Lévy, 1912-1913) vol. 1 (1913), pp. 13-14, pl.XVIII.

A Catalogue of Works of Art of the Eighteenth Century in the Collection of Anna Thomson Dodge (Detroit: Detroit Institute of Art: 1933), pp. viii-ix, n.p., ill.

Boutemy, André. "B.V.R.B. et la morphologie de son style." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 49 (March 1957), pp. 173-174.

Boutemy, André. “L'ébéniste Joseph Baumhauer.” Connaissance des Arts 157 (March 1965), p. 88-89, fig. 12, ill.

Coleridge, Anthony. “Works of Art with a Royal Provenance from the Collection of the Late Mrs. Anna Thomson Dodge of Detroit.” The Connoisseur 177, no. 711 (May 1971), pp. 35-36, fig. 3.

Boutemy, André. Analyses stylistiques et essais d’attribution de meubles français anonymes du XVIIIe siècle (Brussels: Université de Bruxelles, 1973), pp. 58-59, fig. 31.

Fredericksen, Burton B., ed. The J. Paul Getty Museum: Greek and Roman Antiquities, Western European Paintings, French Decorative Arts of the Eighteenth Century (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1975), p. 186, ill.

Rieder, William. “French Furniture of the Ancien Régime.” Apollo 216 (February 1980), p. 131.

Augarde, Jean-Dominique. "1749 Joseph Baumhauer: ébéniste privilégié du roi." L'Estampille 204 (June 1987), p. 16, 19, fig. 3.

Pradère, Alexandre. French Furniture Makers: The Art of the Ébéniste from Louis XIV to the Revolution (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1989), p. 245.

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), pp. 50-51, no. 64, ill.

Wilson, Gillian, and Catherine Hess. Summary Catalogue of European Decorative Arts in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 35, no. 61.

Education Resources
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