Thursday, April 22, 2010

Marie Antoinette's desk

You may remember an apartment I featured awhile back that belonged to my friend Henry, HERE. Henry is interested in the age of enlightenment and in the arts of the time period; remember his visit to Versailles where he shared some of his pictures of the beautiful woodwork? He was kind enough to put together a post for me about a recent piece he saw that he thought we would all enjoy. Here is a delightful Louis XVI writing table I discovered at the National Gallery of Art. Superstar cabinetmaker Jean Henri Riesener made the table for Marie Antoinette in 1785. The table was at the Tuileries Palace, where the royal couple lived three years until their guillotine visit in 1793. The table is a perfect example of the Louis XVI style. It is symmetrical and rectilinear; and outlined in gilt bronze rope beading. A parquetry trellis pattern covers the tabletop, fenced three-quarters by a gilt bronze gallery.On the table’s sides, gilt bronze bas-relief putti play musical instruments in the clouds, flanked by “grills” of alternating palmettes and fluting. Two-toned parquetry echoing the tabletop edge lends depth to the tapered legs, which terminate in gilt bronze leaf-cast sabots. In a candlelit palace, the elegant table would shimmer in delicate golden outline. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette idealized virtue, simplicity and reason. They associated these ideals with the ancient Romans. In furniture design, Roman motifs like fluting, putti and acanthus leaves symbolized these ideals. The symbolism was ironic in the context of the controversially lavish royal lifestyle. Marie Antoinette’s writing table (Widener Collection 1942.9.407) is on display in Basement Gallery 11 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.


pve design said...

Now that is absolutely stunning.
I have a similar table (in my dreams!)

Karena said...

Stefan, a breathtaking work of art. The design is perfect!

We need more artisans like this now!

Art by Karena

Scott Fazzini said...

I love the delicate little gallery, and that graphic patter on the top! Thanks for sharing!

Kwana said...

It's amazing. A work of art.

Acanthus and Acorn said...

Beautiful, beautiful piece, spectacular pictures and detailed descriptions.

So appreciate all your research! And, of course I love the acanthus leaves!

Lesley said...

Absolutely beautiful!
Thanks to you both.
Think I may be becoming obsessed by Marie Antoinette!
Best Wishes

YSLGuy said...

Gorgeous!! I think Ive read about this table before. Didn't it open up somehow???

24 Corners said...

How special to see where Marie wrote her letters, it's beautiful and sad. There was probably hope for freedom in the letters she wrote here...
Many thanks to Henry and you for showing us this exquisite piece of history.