Roll-top desks were the most prestigious pieces of furniture made by David Roentgen in the 1780's. He accomplished his sensational conquest of the Court of Empress Catherine the Great of Russia, which reverberated all through Europe, by travelling to Saint Petersburg in 1783-1784 and offering the Empress a magnificent example, for which she paid him the princely sum of 25.000 roubles, 5.000 more than he had requested (H. Huth, Roentgen Furniture, Abraham and David Roentgen, European Cabinet-makers, London and New York, 1974, pp. 20-21, fig. 63). He also supplied examples to King Louis XVI of France and to his brother, the Comte de Provence, later King Louis XVIII; the first of these is probably the one now in the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace (exhibition catalogue Carlton House, The past glories of George IV's Palace, The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace 1991-'92, No. 68, plate XXI); another was bought by King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia (Fabian, 1996, No. 243). The present desk is less elaborately fitted and not as richly mounted as these royal showpieces, but it is a supreme example of Roentgen's confident, restrained manner that was so much appreciated by the most demanding patrons all over Europe. As on the games' table (see lot 115 in this sale), the splendid mahogany veneers are relieved by finely chased gilt-bronze mounts that may have been supplied by the Parisian maître-doreur François Rémond. In a beautifully economic repetition of motifs, the disks centering the laurel-wreath handles suspended from ribbons recur above the triglyphs surmounting the legs and below the mille-raies bands flanking the cylinder. The stepped platforms in the recesses in the interior are another distinctive feature of Roentgen's style.