The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Work-table
  • Work-table
  • Attributed to Jean-François Leleu (1729 - 1807)
  • France
  • 1765 - 1770
  • Oak, tulipwood, amaranth, kingwood, holly, stained sycamore, box, ebony, Sèvres soft-paste porcelain, hard-paste porcelain, gilt-bronze, steel and silk
  • Height: 82.3 cm
    Width: 41 cm
    Diameter: 33.3 cm, top
  • Maker's mark: J-F OEBEN JME Discovered during conservation 25 June 1999
    Label: Fragment of pp. 175-6 of Book XLIX of a 19th century edition of J. Longueval, 'Histoire de l'Eglise Gallicane'
  • F311
  • Small Drawing Room
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Although described as a bedside table in the Bethnal Green exhibition of 1872-5, this is actually a work table (table en chiffonnière), frequently used by women for holding their needlework or accoutrements from other similar activities. Several examples of this model exist, and they come from the workshop of Jean-Henri Riesener or Jean-François Leleu. The reason for the confusion is that both men trained with Jean-François Oeben and there are many similarities between their work in their early careers in the mid-1760s; the stamp of Oeben on one of the legs of this example does not clarify the matter. The marquetry basket of flowers is characteristic of work by Leleu, but the similarities in the construction between this and another table of the same model in the Wallace Collection (F313) suggests that it might be by Riesener. The uncompromising Greek key feet illustrate the fashionable ‘goût grec’ of the period, an early form of neoclassicism, and recall certain engraved designs by J-C Delafosse (1734-89).
    The table was altered in the 19th century, probably in France, when the porcelain dish and plaques were added. The dish (museum no. C468) has been identified as a ‘plat ‘d’entremets du roi’’, of soft-paste Sèvres porcelain, with the date letter for 1757. However, there has been later decoration to this, evidenced by the flower sprays with the brown undercoat. Such a dish was not intended for mounting in furniture; it was probably added at the same time as the other Sèvres plaques, which were presumably decorated to match. The table may originally have had a marquetry top bordered by a gilt-bronze rim, as does the similar table F313.