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Writing desk

Writing desk

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1860 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Veneered in mahogany and light stained wood on pine, with painted porcelain, gilt-bronze and Bardiglietto marble

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by John Jones

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This small desk, known in French as a bonheur du jour, was a star piece in the collection of John Jones, who bequeathed his collection of French eighteenth-century decorative arts to the Museum in 1882. It was attributed to the great royal cabinet-maker, Jean-Henri Riesener. However, within a few years, curators were beginning to cast doubt on its date. It is one of a group of desks of exactly the same form, all of which are now thought to have been made in Paris in about 1860. At that time, French furniture from the reign of Louis XVI (1774-1792) was at the height of fashion, and many copies and versions of the 18th-century designs were made. Furniture with porcelain mounts was particularly valued by collectors. The plaques on this piece loosely follow the design of porcelain plaques made by the Sèvres porcelain factory during the 1770s and 1780s.

Physical description

Veneered in mahogany and light stained wood on pine; set with painted porcelain plaques and gilt-bronze mounts; the legs joined by a panel set with Bardiglietto marble

Place of Origin

Paris (possibly, made)


ca. 1860 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Veneered in mahogany and light stained wood on pine, with painted porcelain, gilt-bronze and Bardiglietto marble


Height: 115.4 cm, Width: 65.8 cm, Depth: 41.8 cm

Object history note

In the collection of John Jones before 1882

Descriptive line

Veneered in mahogany and light stained wood; set with porcelain plaques and gilt-bronze mounts

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Champeaux, Alfred De: Le Meuble. II. XVIIe, XVIIIe et XIXe Siècles. Paris: Societé Français d'Editions d'Art, 1885, illustrated as fig.68, p. 229.
Emilia, Lady Dilke, French Furniture and Decoration in the XVIIIth Century. London: George Bell & Sons, 1901, illustrated opp. p. 178.

Production Note

Acquired as late 18th-century French, but now believed to have been made in Paris in the middle of the 19th century


Pine; Mahogany; Porcelain; Gilt bronze; Marble


Cabinet-making; Veneering; Casting; Chasing; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Flowers; Basket




Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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