The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Writing-table
  • Writing-table
  • Attributed to Godtfried Weber (active between: 1774 - 1778) , Cabinet Maker
  • Attributed to Michel-Paul-Joseph Dewez (1742 - 1804), Bronze Chaser
  • France
  • 1777 - 1778
  • Oak, pinewood, chestnut, hazelnut, rosewood, gilt-bronze and leather
  • Object size: 85 x 244 x 115 cm
  • Inscription: '1063' In pencil
  • F320
  • Large Drawing Room
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • This great desk was made for Charles-Alexandre, Duke of Lorraine, Governor-General of the Austrian Netherlands from 1744 until his death in 1780. Charles-Alexandre was Empress Maria-Theresa's brother-in-law and one of Austria's principal military commanders. In the late 1770s he undertook a wholesale refurbishment of his winter apartment in the palace at Brussels, of which the Audience Chamber was one of the main rooms. Part of the state rooms, this was also used by the prince personally and thus formed a transition between the public and the private; the new decoration was spectacularly modern and innovative. It included marquetry panels on the walls, commissioned from David Roentgen, to replace the tapestry hangings that had been there before, as well as gilt-bronze wall-mounted trophies and a parquetry floor. To complement the classically-inspired decoration, an entire new suite of furniture was delivered, veneered in the same wood as the panelling. It comprised two console tables, two settees, twelve chairs and this writing-table. Archival work has only found one receipt relating to this furniture, from Godtfried Weber for the woodwork of the two settees; Michel Dewez (1742-1804), the court goldsmith, produced the gilt-bronze mounts on the seat furniture. The similarities between these, the console tables now in the Albertina in Vienna and this desk all point to the same authorship. Weber was one of the 'menuisiers' or skilled wood-workers who also made inlaid floors and marquetry panelling for the palace and the construction of the writing-table shows every sign of being made by a menuisier and not a trained cabinet-maker.