Writing and Toilette Table

Object Details


Writing and Toilette Table


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




Paris, France (Place created)


about 1754


Oak veneered with kingwood, amaranth, tulipwood, and other stained and natural exotic woods; leather; silk; gilt-bronze mounts


71.1 x 80 x 42.8 cm (28 x 31 1/2 x 16 7/8 in.)

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When unlocked, the top of this small table may be slid back, revealing a drawer covered with a sliding lid veneered with marquetry. By pressing a button, the sliding lid releases, showing silk-lined compartments that may once have held writing materials and various pots for powder, rouge, and beauty patches. This table would probably have been placed in the bedroom, where it would serve for both dressing and writing.

The fine floral marquetry on the top of the table is characteristic of the work of Jean-François Oeben, a royal ébéniste. The naturalistically arranged bouquet represented on the top surface contains various flowers including roses, tulips, and daffodils. A garland of blossoms appears to hang from a grill above. At the four corners, a lion, a swan, a dove, and a salamander represent the four elements: Earth, Water, Air, and Fire. The trellis marquetry around the sides of the table and floral marquetry on top are formed from small pieces of wood dyed in various shades, including blue and green, all of which are now almost completely faded.


John George Murray, Marquess of Tullibardine, eighth duke of Atholl, 1871 - 1917 (Scotland), by inheritance to Mary Gavin.

Mary Gavin (Hon. Mrs. Robert Baillie-Hamilton), by inheritance to Lady Harvey.

Lady Harvey (London, England)

Lewis & Simmons (Paris, France)

- 1928

Judge Elbert H. Gary, 1846 - 1927 (New York City, New York) [sold, American Art Association, April 21, 1928, lot 272, when the above provenance was given]

Duveen Brothers, Inc. (New York City, New York)

Raymond Kraemer (Paris, France)

- 1971

Martha Baird Rockefeller, 1895 - 1971 (New York City, New York) [sold, Parke-Bernet, New York, October 23, 1971, no. 712]


The Antique Porcelain Company (New York) (New York City, New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1971.

The Making of Furniture (October 7, 2003 to October 23, 2005)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), October 7, 2003 to October 23, 2005
Education Resources

Education Resource




Looking at French Decorative Arts

The Function of Furniture

In this lesson students learn about and discuss decorative arts objects and their functions.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts; ESL (English as a Second Language)

Adult Learners

Single Class Lesson

Related Media
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    Audio: Table (Oeben)