The magnificent marquetry to the top of this commode is typical of the sumptuous pictorial work executed by David Roentgen in collaboration with the artist Januarius Zick (d.1797) during the 1770s, whilst the floral inlay was likened to the work of Jean Baptiste Monnoyer (d.1699), when the commode was exhibited at The Roentgen Museum, Neuwied, in 2011 (op. cit.). Abraham Roentgen had established the reputation of his workshop as a centre 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 commode. The superb pastoral panel to the top combined with the highly individual swagged floral design, with its ingenious colouring and shadowing, providing a deep sense of three dimensionality, are hallmarks of the ‘à la mosaïque’ technique of ‘painting in wood’, which he perfected.
David Roentgen travelled to Paris in 1774, apparently not with the aim of promoting the produce of his renowned workshop, but with the purpose of observing first-hand the designs, fashions, and workshop practices of the French capital. The world looked to the court of Louis XVI for all that was à la mode and the ambitious young Roentgen knew that there was much there to learn there that would be to his benefit. This trip would prove to be as inspirational as he had hoped and undoubtedly influenced his designs. Reinier Baarsen speculates that Roentgen probably first met one of his greatest patrons, Charles Alexander of Loraine, whilst passing through Brussels on this trip (Extravagant Inventions; The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens, New York, 2012, p. 25). Lorraine would go on to commission a great many significant pieces of furniture from David Roentgen over the ensuing years, including the magnificent pair of ‘marquetry tapestries’ which Roentgen produced to the designs of Januarius Zick for the audience chamber at Lorraine’s Brussels palace, and on which Roentgen's skilled pupil, the marqueteur Johann Michael Rummer (d.1821) is known to have worked.
Much of the acclaimed pictorial marquetry produced by the Roentgen Workshop under David’s leadership is thought to have been executed after works by Zick, but it is perhaps the monumental Lorraine panels which are the crowning glory of this long and fruitful relationship between artist and cabinet maker. Whilst the prime for the scene to the top of this commode has not been traced, it is typical of the picturesque scenes devised by Zick and interpreted in exquisite marquetry by Roentgen. Furthermore various examples of the type of distinctive swagged marquetry used to the body of this commode are recorded amongst David’s oeuvre, such as to the closely related commode thought to have been supplied through his Parisian agent JeanGottlieb Frost to the Prince de Ligne (Fabian, op. cit.) and the small bombé commode illustrated by Hans Huth (op. cit.).