Attributed to David Roentgen
Height: 30 3/4 inches (78.11cm)
Width: 28 3/4 inches (73.03cm)
Depth: 19 1/2 inches (49.53cm)
The mechanized secrets of this writing desk are what set cabinetmaker David Roentgen apart from others during the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Son of the prominent joiner Abraham Roentgen who in 1750 established Neuwid-on-the-Rhine, David Roentgen quickly followed in his father’s footsteps taking over for him in 1772.
Among his most fashionable designs were portable oval writing tables or Mehrzwecktishce. This example with an oval top and fitted with a pierced brass gallery and brass mounts, surmounts the central drawer with a leather-lined writing surface acting as a false bottom. The writing surface can be pushed back to reveal to smaller hidden drawers. Further, with a pull of the writing desk portion, an interior mechanism is triggered to reveal two hidden compartments that flank each side. The body is raised on square tapering fluted legs, joined by an in-curved stretcher with gallery, ending in sabots and later casters. Several examples demonstrate Roentgens elaborate use of inlay and can be found among prominent collections such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museums. This design was also a main feature in his workshop.