The J. Paul Getty Museum

Rolltop Desk

Object Details

Title:

Rolltop Desk

Artists/Makers:

Attributed to David Roentgen (German, 1743 - 1807, master 1780)

gilt-bronze plaque attributed to Pierre Gouthière (French, 1732 - 1813/1814, master 1758)

mounts by François Rémond (French, 1747 - 1812, master 1774)

Culture:

German

Place:

Neuwied, Germany (Place Created)

Date:

1787–1788

Medium:

Oak, fir, and Scots pine veneered with mahogany and maple burl; gilt-bronze mounts; steel fittings

Object Number:

72.DA.47

Dimensions:

168.3 × 155.9 × 89.3 cm, 347.0017 kg (66 1/4 × 61 3/8 × 35 3/16 in., 765 lb.)

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Object Description

Made in the Neoclassical style, this monumental rolltop desk is fitted with numerous complicated mechanical devices, the specialty of David Roentgen's workshop. When the writing surface is pulled out, a mechanism automatically withdraws the solid rolltop back into the carcass, displaying the drawers and pigeon holes inside the desk. Behind the large gilt bronze plaque in the middle of the top is a contraption of many parts that moves out and opens at the turn of a key. It contains a folding reading and writing stand with compartments that hold an inkwell and sand pot for use by a person standing at the closed desk.

Provenance
Provenance
- by 1793

possibly Louis XVI, King of France, French, 1754 - 1793 (cabinet du Roi, Palais des Tuileries, later moved to the Château de Versailles)

- 1852

possibly Count Iljinski, Russian, 1793 - 1852 (Castle of Romanova, near St. Petersburg, Russia)

1857 - 1859

possibly M. Court (rue de la Madeleine, Paris, France) [sold, M. le comte de M..., Paris, November 12, 1859, no. 1, to Migeon]

1859 -

possibly Migeon

- 1892

possibly Samson Wertheimer, English, 1812 - 1892 (London, England)

1892

possibly Heirs of Samson Wertheimer, English, 1812 - 1892 [sold, Objects of Art and Decoration, and Pictures, (personally and jointly with others), of Mr. Samson Wertheimer [...] Deceased, London, Christie's, London, March 15, 1892, lot 637, to Jackson]

1892 -

possibly Jackson
Source: Annotation within Christie’s auction catalogue. In the files of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Department of Sculpture and Decorative Arts.

- 1908

Count János Pálffy, Hungarian, 1829 - 1908 (Palais Pálffy, Vienna, Austria), by bequest to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to be managed by the Ministry of Religion and Education of Hungary, given with the Palais Pálffy along with its contents, 1908.

1908 - 1918

Austro-Hungarian Empire (Palais Pàlffy, Vienna, Austria), distributed to the Republic of German-Austria with the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, 1918.

1918 - 1919

Republic of German-Austria, 1918 - 1919, distributed to the First Austrian Republic with the dissolution of the Republic of German-Austria, 1919.

1919 - 1921

First Austrian Republic [sold, Nachlass János Graf Pálffy I. Teil, Glückselig und Warndorfer, Vienna, March 7, 1921, lot 209, to Castiglione.]

1921 -

(Camillo) Camillo Castiglioni, Italian-Austrian, 1879 - 1957 (Vienna, Austria)
Source: French and Company, Inc. correspondence dated October 1, 1963. In the files of the J. Paul Getty Museum.

-

Baroness Marie de Reitzes (Vienna, Austria)
Source: French & Company Inc. Invoice. In the files of the J. Paul Getty Museum.

by 1956 - 1972

French and Company, Inc. (New York, New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1972.
Source: The desk appears in a French and Company, Inc. inventory made October 5, 1956.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens (October 30, 2012 to January 27, 2013)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), October 30, 2012 to January 27, 2013
Bibliography
Bibliography

La Gazette de France (October 30, 1857).

Riegl, Alois. "Möbel und Innendecoration." In Der Wiener Congress: Culturgeschichte, die Bildenden Künste und das Kunstgewerbe, Theater, Musik in der Zeit von 1800 bis 1825. Eduard Leisching, ed. (Vienna: Verlag von Artaria & Co., 1898), pp. 188, 291, pl. XXXV facing p. 194.

Glückselig & Wärndorfer, Vienna. Nachlass János Graf Pálffy, I. Teil: Mobiliar, Bronzen, Skulpturen, Gemälde, Miniaturen U.S.W. aus der Zeit von ca. 1780-1815. March 1921, pp. 42, unpaginated, lot 209, ill.

Conger, Clement E. and Jane W. Pool. "Americana in the Diplomatic Reception Rooms at the Department of State, Washington D.C.." The Connoisseur 174, no. 701 (July 1970), pp. 224, 226, no. 23.

Huth, Hans. Roentgen Furniture: Abraham and David Roentgen: European Cabinet-makers (Sotheby Parke Bernet: London and New York, 1974), pls. 64-68.

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), pp. 143, 183, ill.

Wilson, Gillian. "The J. Paul Getty Museum, 7ème partie: Le Mobilier Louis XVI." Connaissance des arts 280 (June 1975), p. 95, ill.

Frel, Jiri, Burton B. Fredericksen, and Gillian Wilson. The J. Paul Getty Museum Guidebook, 3rd ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1975), pp. 87-88.

Fredericksen, Burton B., Jiří Frel, and Gillian Wilson. Guidebook: The J. Paul Getty Museum. 4th ed. Sandra Morgan, ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1978), pp. 120, 122-23, ill.

Greber, Josef Maria. Abraham und David Roentgen: Möbel für Europa. Vol. 2, Werdegang, Kunst und Technik einter deutschen Kabinett-Manufaktur. (Starnberg: J. Keller, 1980), pp. 336-38, figs. 682-84.

Fabian, Dietrich. Die Entwicklung der Roentgen-Schreibmöbel (Bad Neustadt a. d. Saale: D. Pfaehler, 1982), p. 45, figs. 66-67.

Wilson, Gillian. Selections from the Decorative Arts in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1983), pp. 88-89, no. 44.

Kreisel, Heinrich and Georg Himmelheber. Die Kunst des deutschen Möbels: Möbel und Vertäfelungen des deutschen Sprachraums von den Anfängen bis zum Jugendstil. Vol. 3, Klassizismus, Historismus, Jugendstil (Munich: Beck, 1983), fig. 17.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 1st ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986), p. 176.

Fabian, Dietrich. Roentgenmöbel aus Neuwied (Bad Neustadt a. d. Saale: D. Pfaehler, 1986), p. 96, figs. 307-10.

Kjellberg, Pierre. Le Mobilier français du XVIIIe siècle: Dictionnaire des ébénistes et des menuisiers (Paris: Éditions de l'Amateur, 1989), p. 727.

Pradère, Alexandre. Les ébénistes français de Louis XIV à la Révolution (Paris: Chêne, 1989), p. 417, fig. 514.

Pradère, Alexandre. French Furniture Makers: The Art of the Ébéniste from Louis XIV to the Revolution (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1989), p. 417, fig. 514.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1991), p. 194.

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. 228-29. no. 397.

Baulez, Christian. "David Roentgen et François Remond, une collaboration majeure dans l'histoire du mobilier européen." L'Estampille/L'Objet d'Art 305 (September, 1996), pp. 116-17, figs. 26, 29, 32-33.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 4th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 227.

Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Decorative Arts (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 120, no. 95.

Stratmann-Döhler, Rosemarie. Mechanische Wunder, edles Holz: Roentgen-Möbel des 18. Jarhundertzin Baden und Württenberg, exh. cat. (Karlsruhe: Badischen Landesmuseum, 1998), p. 119.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 227, 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. 199, no. 396.

Koeppe, Wolfram. Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art; New Haven and London: Distributed by Yale University Press, 2012), pp. 206-07, no. 64.