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Reading stand

Reading stand

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1780 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Carlin, Martin (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oak veneered with Japanese lacquer and <i>vernis Martin</i>, with gilt-bronze mounts

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by John Jones

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This table is one of a series that were made in the 1770s and 1780s by the French cabinetmaker Martin Carlin for Dominique Daguerre, a marchand-mercier (member of a Parisian guild of merchants selling luxury goods). Though they did function as music stands or writing tables, they were essentially decorative pieces. They appear to have been designed specifically for a female clientele and for the small rooms such as boudoirs that fashionable women of the time decorated to their personal taste. Many of the tables were decorated with porcelain plaques or, as here, with panels of Japanese lacquer. These materials were very expensive and it would have been Daguerre who bore the capital cost of ordering the porcelain or buying the lacquer, supplying the panels to the cabinetmaker.

Physical description

Small writing and work table, of oak veneered with ebony, ebonized wood, black and gold Japanese lacquer and aventurine vernis Martin (a French imitation of lacquer). The table has a single drawer below a top surface that can be raised to provide a reading slope. The legs are joined below by a shelf of white Carrarra marble and the table is set with gilt-bronze mounts.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)


ca. 1780 (made)


Carlin, Martin (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Oak veneered with Japanese lacquer and vernis Martin, with gilt-bronze mounts

Marks and inscriptions

Stamped under the right (proper left) side rail

Stamped under right (proper left) side rail

This is the mark of the juré des menuisiers-ébénistes, the ruling committee of the cabinet-making guild in Paris


Height: 78.7 cm, Width: 45.8 cm, Depth: 34.5 cm

Descriptive line

French, Paris, 1770-90, by Martin Carlin, veneered in Japanese lacquer

to reading stand; French, 1770-90, old

Labels and date

FRENCH (Paris); about 1780
Oak veneered with panels of Japanese lacquer. The drawer contains a writing-slide masking compartments for inkwell and pounce-pot, and the hinged reading-stand is spring operated.
Stamped M. Carlin

Martin Carlin became a maitre ébéniste in 1776 and died in 1785. He is known to have produced many small and expensively decorated tables of this type for sale in shops of dealers like Daguerre and his predecessor and business partner Simon-Philippe Poirier, whose premises lay in the fashionable Rue Saint-Honoré.

Temporary label
1028-1882 [01/01/2001]


Oak; Lacquer; Vernis Martin; Gilt bronze; Marble; Pearwood; Ebony


Cabinet-making; Lacquering


Images Online; Furniture


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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