Writing table of the first antechamber
Of Madam Elisabeth
By Roentgen, 1774
||Author : David Roentgen (1743-1807)
Width: 33.86 Inches. Height: 30.71 Inches. Depth: 16.54 Inches.
Frame of walnut veneering violette wood and different species of wood
A restoration was made on this table in 2000
This table of inlaid “marquetrie” work is very much the work of David Roentgen (1743-1807).
It has floral ornaments and foliated scroll on it.
A signature was found with a gothic R. The discovery was in 1999 of a parchment, stuck behind the drawer where there was printed a closed crown, this showed the royal origin of this table.
This kind of paper ticket or parchment was at the end of the Louis XVI reign, applied with a hot iron or in many cases with a stencil.
They can be of different sizes according to the dimension of the piece of furniture.
This “marquetrie” table is registered at N°122 of the general inventory of the crown furniture dressed in 1775 and located at Versailles.
Such great similarities with this table registered in the inventory and also its dimensions means that there is no doubt.
It is described as the following:
A table with drawers of “marquetrie” flowered woodwork with several colours with an ebony back.
With compartments of purple wood shaped with white wood and has on the middle a flower vase, where emerges two big foliated scrolls, carried by the feet, four pillars in guaine with the same gilded embedded wood at the top and bottom, 26 inches in length and 29 to 30 inches in height. At Versailles.
In the month of August 1774, Roentgen made his first trip to France. He came to make contact with the court, and he strengthened this relationship over the next few years by delivering some furniture to the King and the Queen. Roentgen obtained the title of technician cabinet maker of the Queen. Marie-Antoinette was interested in artists of Germanic language, and therefore gave him this title.
This writing table arrived in Versailles in August 1774 and belonged certainly to a furniture convoy forwarded on by Roentgen to show his production to the French court.
This writing table and other pieces were probably offered or sold to the King Louis XVI and the Queen Marie-Antoinette a short time after the start of the reign.
Christian Baulez underlines concerning David Roentgen, the buys of the French court are difficult to attain because they were paid by private funding and was never noticed on the official inventory.
Concerning the localisation of this table in the castle, we think that it was put in the mid-day wing, in the first antechamber of the apartments of Madame Elisabeth, sister of the King.
In the furniture inventory of the house ware of the crown existing in Versailles in 1776, it was written briefly in the first waiting room (a table with drawer in white wood).
The general inventory of the crown furniture mentions a table in purple and white wood. We can compare this description with a table in rose wood also described in brief terms in the inventory of 1776, and put in the summer bedroom of Madam Sophie in Versailles and mentions the N°1881 the general crown furniture inventory where it is described as shown:
A wooden table of purple and rose with veneering without draws with curved out lines, rosette and bronze feet 34 inches long, 20 inches long and 26 inches high.
The table in white wood with a drawer briefly described being in the first antechamber of Elisabeth, can establish that it is probably the one registered under the N°122 of the general inventory of the crown furniture.
The furniture inventory of the castle by apartments in 1786 and 1787 mentions again the table, but the general inventory of the castle and outside of castle at Versailles
in 1785 don’t mention it in the first antechamber of Madame Elisabeth.
It seems that it had been moved, and after this date no inventory gave any more details. This “marquetrie” wood table with drawer was probably put in a house ware of the Queen where many other pieces of the Queen had been registered and crossed off the royal inventory. The queen mainly registered the furniture that she personally had ordered. She managed this department with the assistance of her house ware man Bonnefoy-Duplan and superintendent of Trianon. This inventory of the private house ware of Marie-Antoinette disappeared during the Revolution.
This writing table is one of many that was dispatched in mass, part of the furniture of the crown at Versailles in 1793 and 1794.
The description of the set was registered in brief terms; it’s reason why it is not easy to pick out some of them exactly. This “marquetrie” wood table with drawer can be assimilated at N°3496, sold at l’Encan 27th January 1794: “a writing table with unidentified wood allocated for two hundred and sixty pounds for Mr Goret son who forgot to deliver the table in Bonnefoy at Versailles”.
This writing table received an exit authorisation of the territories by the management of the French museums.
archives nat. serie 01 33.34 - inventaire général des meubles de la couronne tome troisième en 1775.
34.59 - inventaire des meubles du garde meubles de la couronne existants à Versailles en 1776.
34.61 - inventaire des meubles du château par appartements à Versailles en 1786-1787.
archives dép. Yvelines II Q 70-71
Les ébénistes français de Louis XIV à la Révolution
Edition du chêne 1989.
David Roentgen et François Rémond
par Christian Baulez conservateur en chef
au musée national des châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon.
l'estampille l'objet d'art n°305, septembre 1996.
Le mobilier royal français
Edition Picard Paris - 1990
Le mobilier français du dix-huitième siècle
dictionnaire des ébénistes et des menuisiers
Les éditions de l'amateur 2002.
David Roentgen par Ernest Zais
Gazette des beaux arts, août 1890.
François de Salverte
Les ébénistes au dix-huitième siècle 1959.