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Furniture by Abraham and David Roentgen on loan from the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

David Roentgen (German, 1743–1807). Berlin Secretary Cabinet, 1778–79, 1786. Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (O-1962,24). Photographer: Stefan Klonk, Berlin


The installation is made possible by the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation.

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The Roentgens' Berlin Secretary Cabinet

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Discover the hidden features and intricate interior of this cabinet.

One of the finest achievements of European furniture making, this cabinet is the most important product from Abraham (1711–1793) and David Roentgen's (1743–1807) workshop. A writing cabinet crowned with a chiming clock, it features finely designed marquetry panels and elaborate mechanisms that allow for doors and drawers to be opened automatically at the touch of a button. Owned by King Frederick William II, the Berlin cabinet is uniquely remarkable for its ornate decoration, mechanical complexity, and sheer size.

This cabinet, from Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, is featured in the exhibition Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens (on view October 30, 2012–January 27, 2013).

Footage courtesy of VideoART GmbH and Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

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David Roentgen: Long-Case Clock

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Abraham and David Roentgen were renowned German cabinetmakers whose workshop was famed throughout Europe for its exquisite marquetry work and complex mechanical devices. Exquisitely constructed, the case of this clock boasts finely detailed marquetry designs and a multitude of functions, including dials that indicate the time in ten of the most important cities in the world.

This clock is featured in the exhibition Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens (on view October 30, 2012–January 27, 2013). See Collections to learn more about this clock.

Furniture by Abraham and David Roentgen on loan from the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

January 29, 2013–January 26, 2014

Accompanied by the catalogue Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens

Additional Roentgen objects are on view in Galleries 539, 547, and 551.

The meteoric rise of the workshop of Abraham Roentgen (1711–1793) and his son David (1743–1807) blazed across eighteenth-century continental Europe. From about 1742 to its closing in the early 1800s, the Roentgens' innovative designs were combined with intriguing mechanical devices to revolutionize traditional French and English furniture types. Based in Neuwied am Rhein, Germany, the workshop employed novel marketing and production techniques to serve an international clientele.

This installation continues the mission of the 2012 exhibition Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens, the first comprehensive survey of the cabinetmaking firm, which underlined the long-overlooked significance and legacy of the Roentgens as Europe's principal cabinetmakers of the ancien régime. Three significant loans from the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin are on view alongside several other masterworks by the Roentgens from the Metropolitan Museum's collection. The Berlin loans include the famous "Berlin Secretary Cabinet," likely the most expensive piece of furniture in eighteenth-century Europe, which was made on speculation for King Frederick William II of Prussia and is traveling for the first time since its delivery to the king in 1779. Today a national treasure of Germany, the cabinet was celebrated in its time as an ingenious technical invention as well as a magnificent work of art. This multimedia installation also includes music and virtual animations illustrating the most complicated mechanical devices.