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A GERMAN SYCAMORE, TULIPWOOD, BURR BIRCH, EBONY AND MARQUETRY SECRETAIRE A ABBATANT
A GERMAN SYCAMORE, TULIPWOOD, BURR BIRCH, EBONY AND MARQUETRY SECRETAIRE A ABBATANT
A GERMAN SYCAMORE, TULIPWOOD, BURR BIRCH, EBONY AND MARQUETRY SECRETAIRE A ABBATANT
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Prospective purchasers are advised that several co… Read more
A GERMAN SYCAMORE, TULIPWOOD, BURR BIRCH, EBONY AND MARQUETRY SECRETAIRE A ABBATANT

BY DAVID ROENTGEN, CIRCA 1780

Details
A GERMAN SYCAMORE, TULIPWOOD, BURR BIRCH, EBONY AND MARQUETRY SECRETAIRE A ABBATANT
BY DAVID ROENTGEN, CIRCA 1780
The rectangular top inlaid with a banded border punctuated by spheres above a fall front with a gardening trophy hung by trompe l'oeil ribbons tied by floral sprays opening to a compartmented interior with a later velvet-lined writing surface flanked by later ormolu uprights, over cabinet doors inlaid with lush floral sprays and opening to drawers and a shelf, the sides with birds and floral sprays, bracket feet, the back with chalk 76990, Paris customs stamp and chalk 26/20594, top formerly with a gallery, the ormolu columns later
55 ½ in. (141 cm.) high, 35 ½ in. (90 cm.) wide, 15 in. (38 cm.) deep
Provenance
The Counts of Solms-Rödelheim und Assenheim, Schloss Assenheim, Hesse, Germany.
Anonymous sale (A Private Collector); Sotheby's, New York, 4 May 1984, lot 82.
Literature
H. Huth, Roentgen Furniture, London, 1974, fig. 77.
Special notice

Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.
Please note this lot will be moved to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services (CFASS in Red Hook, Brooklyn) at 5pm on the last day of the sale. Lots may not be collected during the day of their move to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services. Please consult the Lot Collection Notice for collection information. This sheet is available from the Bidder Registration staff, Purchaser Payments or the Packing Desk and will be sent with your invoice.

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Lot Essay

The magnificent and inventive marquetry on this secretaire is typical of the sumptuous pictorial work executed by David Roentgen in collaboration with the artist Januarius Zick (d.1797) during the 1770s. Abraham Roentgen had established the reputation of his workshop as a center of excellence for the production of the finest marquetry at least two decades earlier, but it was his son David who would develop the distinctive styles of inlay employed to the decorate this secretaire. The ingenious coloring and shadowing, providing a deep sense of three dimensionality, of the superb and highly individual swagged floral design, are hallmarks of the ‘à la mosaïque’ technique of ‘painting in wood’, which Roentgen perfected and whereby the entire picture was composed, like a jigsaw puzzle, of tiny pieces of wood and no engraving was needed. This technique is typical of Roentgen’s fourth phase of activity (for a detailed discussion on Roentgen’s six clearly distinguishable periods, see D. Fabian, Abraham und David Roentgen, Bad Neustadt, 1992, pp. 7-19). This suspended flower motif was in a way a modification of Roentgen’s floral inlay work from the 1760s when he employed clusters of rocailles and flowers to create asymmetrical compositions to decorate his pieces. A secretaire with comparable floral marquetry is in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, see H. Huth, Roentgen Furniture, London, 1978, fig. 80, while another with almost identical inlay to the fall front is illustrated J. M. Greber, Abraham und David Roentgen: Möbel für Europa, Vol. II, Starnberg, 1980, p. 279, fig. 551. The distinct inlay where floral compositions are suspended by sashes and ribbons is a returning motif in Roentgen’s oeuvre from this period and can be found on a number of furnishings of various types including a secretaire and a signed and dated desk, both once in the Royal Palace in Berlin and now destroyed, see ibid., figs. 78 and 44, respectively; a desk in the Residenzmuseum in Munich, see ibid., fig. 42; a secretaire now in a German private collection, see W. Koeppe, ed., Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens, New York, 2012, p. 27, fig. 24; two tables, see ibid., pp. 98 and 102; and a corner cabinet, see Fabian, op. cit., p. 40, fig. 80.

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