David Roentgen, maître in 1780.
During the 1760's Abraham and David Roentgen had found many aristocratic patrons in Germany to buy their furniture, such as the Elector of Trier and the Margravine of Baden, but they had yet to establish their name as one of the finest furniture producers in Europe. However, by the end of the 18th century, Roentgen pieces would be found in the French, Austrian, Prussian and Russian royal collections and nearly every princely court in Central Europe. The date of this table indicates it is either by Abraham, or his son David, who had probably been established in his father's workshop in Neuwied since 1757. By the time of Abraham's well-known visit to London in 1766, David was already deeply involved in the design and production of the furniture and by 1768 was managing the workshop. Both the relatively simple composition and lack of density of the floral marquetry - the aesthetic direction towards which David was leading the firm - indicate the hand of David in the present piece.
This table can be grouped together with several other pieces from the Roentgen workshop, all of which are dated by J. M. Greber between 1765 and 1768 (J.M. Greber, Abraham und David Roentgen: Möbel für Europa, vol.II, Starnberg, 1980, nos.271-278). These work, or center tables, are all of late-rococo design, with slender cabriole legs, a single frieze-drawer, almost no mounts and with simple floral sprays of marquetry on the sides and tops. What sets them apart from the present lot, however, is the central, circular marquetry panel.
The great majority of the figural marquetry panels from Roentgen's workshop depict fanciful and exotic chinoiserie scenes. And while most of them were either taken directly, or at least inspired by French sources - such as the designs of Boucher and Pillement - they were wildly popular with Roentgen's royal and aristocratic clientele from Paris to St. Petersburg. However, other scenes were also produced, such as those depicting classical scenes, commedia dell'arte figures and landscapes. The most important and complex examples of these were the wall panels made for Prince Karl Alexander von Lothringen in 1779 for the Audience Chamber of the Stadtholder of the Austrian Netherlands in Brussels (Greber, op. cit., vol.II, pp.260-261). The inspiration for these scenes as well as for the present lot were paintings and, more often, prints which were widely distributed and easily accessible to educated artisans like the Roentgens. The circular panel of the present lot is probably taken from either a Dutch painting or printed source familiar to Roentgen. It is particularly notable for the Roentgen oeuvre as it depicts a distinctly Northern, rather than a classically-inspired landscape scene. The fishermen and the rustic village perched on the riverbank have none of the elements of the Italian countryside, so redolent of Antiquity, found in most of the other panels. Probably the closest comparison is one of the marquetry panels on the celebrated Walderdorff secretaire, made circa 1765 for the Elector Johann Philipp von Walderdorff (H. Huth, Abraham and David Roentgen: European Cabinet-makers, London, 1974, nos.20-31). The side panels are after the series of prints by Johann Georg Hertel (1700-1775) who copied the landscape scenes from the 1650's by the Dutch painter Nicolaes Berchem which depict Italian peasants (Greber, op. cit., vol.I, pp.79-81). The front panel, however, while it does have several illusions to landscape of Italy, illustrates a townscape with the distinctive steep-pitched roofs of Northern Europe and is perhaps closer in composition and design to the present lot than any other of Roentgen's panels.