Writing Table

1765-1770 (made)
Writing Table thumbnail 1
Writing Table thumbnail 2
+20
images
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Simon Oeben was the brother of a more famous cabinet-maker, Jean-François Oeben, who was appointed cabinet-maker to the French King, Louis XV, in 1754. The two brothers shared a workshop in the Gobelins manufactory, but two years later Jean-François moved to the Arsenal, to achieve more space for his workshop. Simon Oeben remained where he was, and he in turn was appointed as a royal cabinet-maker. This writing table or bureau plat is decorated with a finely-detailed trellis marquetry of a design that was probably first used in Jean-François Oeben's workshop, but then became widely popular. The Oeben brothers were working in the years when the new, Neo-classical style was becoming dominant, and they modified their work to suit the new fashion. This table shows a top that still has the curving outlines of a Rococo table, but the legs are very strictly Neo-classical, adorned with Roman swags of laurel in gilt bronze.


object details
Category
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 3 parts.
(Some alternative part names are also shown below)
  • Writing Table
  • <I>bureau Plat</I>
  • Drawer
  • Keys
Materials and Techniques
Veneered in marquetry of bois satiné tulipwood and purplewood with additional marquetry of boxwood, ebony and sycamore; mounts of gilt bronze; writing panel of leather
Brief Description
Writing table (bureau plat), French, 1765-70
Dimensions
  • Height: 74.5cm
  • Width: 125.5cm
  • Depth: 61cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
'S.[at centre height] OEBEN' (Stamped twice underneath the front rail)
Gallery Label
[Label text by Peter Thornton] Writing table (bureau plât) French (Paris); about 1774 Stamped 'S.Oeben' Veneered with geometrical marquetry of various woods. Gilt bronze mounts. The two ends of the top surface slide outwards, when unlocked, to reveal large compartments within. Simon Oeben was a brother of the more famous Jean-François Oeben. He became a master cabinet-maker in 1764 and enjoyed the patronage of the duc de Choiseul. The legs on this piece closely resemble those on a desk provided by Riesener in 1774 for the comte de Provence, now at Waddesdon Manor. Riesener had married Jean-François' widow in 1767 so he would have had close connections with Simon Oeben. Jones Collection Museum No. 1099-1882(1980)
Credit line
Bequeathed by John Jones
Object history
In the collection of John Jones before 1882
Subjects depicted
Summary
Simon Oeben was the brother of a more famous cabinet-maker, Jean-François Oeben, who was appointed cabinet-maker to the French King, Louis XV, in 1754. The two brothers shared a workshop in the Gobelins manufactory, but two years later Jean-François moved to the Arsenal, to achieve more space for his workshop. Simon Oeben remained where he was, and he in turn was appointed as a royal cabinet-maker. This writing table or bureau plat is decorated with a finely-detailed trellis marquetry of a design that was probably first used in Jean-François Oeben's workshop, but then became widely popular. The Oeben brothers were working in the years when the new, Neo-classical style was becoming dominant, and they modified their work to suit the new fashion. This table shows a top that still has the curving outlines of a Rococo table, but the legs are very strictly Neo-classical, adorned with Roman swags of laurel in gilt bronze.
Bibliographic Reference
Eriksen, Svend. Early Neo-Classicism in France. London: Faber & Faber, 1974, 432 pp, ill. ISBN 0 571 08717 5, p. 329, pl. 144
Collection
Accession Number
1099:1 to 3-1882

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record createdNovember 9, 2005
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