Maker: David Roentgen (German, Herrnhaag 1743–1807 Wiesbaden, master 1780)
Date: ca. 1780–83
Culture: German, Neuwied am Rhine
Medium: Oak and walnut, veneered with mahogany, maple, holly (the last two partially stained); iron, steel, brass, gilt bronze; felt and partially tooled and gilded leather
Dimensions: Overall: H. 30 13/16 x W. 38 11/16 x D. 19 1/2 in. (78.3 x 98.3 x 49.5 cm);
Overall depth, when opened: 38 9/16 in. (97.9 cm)
Credit Line: Pfeiffer Fund, 2007
Accession Number: 2007.42.1a–e, .2a–o, aa–nn
Elegant furniture incorporating intriguing mechanical devices was a trademark of the Roentgen workshop, which from 1768 until about 1793 was one of Europe's most successful cabinetmaking enterprises. The distinguished design and the innovative way prefabricated elements such as the detachable legs were assembled make this table an example par excellence of David Roentgen's ingenious creations. His objects are an amalgamation of superior technical skills, sophisticated looks, high-quality materials, and multiple functions. Roentgen's patrons sought adaptable furnishings that could perform manifold tasks. This piece is a console, a desk for writing and reading, and a game table for cards and chess with a concealed spring-driven backgammon box. Yet when closed, it took up only a small amount of space in the intimate interiors popular during the Age of Enlightenment. A set of eighteenth-century game pieces—twenty-nine stamped wooden medallions illustrate European monarchs and historical views—were associated with the table.
The Museum has a small but fine group of earlier pieces by Roentgen, but until now lacked an example from the Neoclassical period of 1780–90, when his furniture designs were characterized by restrained architectural outlines and the juxtaposition of finely grained exotic mahogany with polished brass mounts.