The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Toilet table
  • Toilet table
  • Bernard Molitor (1755 - 1833)
  • France
  • 1788 - 1790
  • Oak veneered with satinwood, amaranth, stained sycamore, holly, box, ebony, tulipwood, satiné; gilt-bronze, brass and velvet
  • Object size: 70 x 81 x 43.5 cm
  • F321
  • West Gallery I
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This elegant table is a pair to a similar table in the Huntington Museum in California, which is stamped by Bernard Molitor (1755-1833). Its size and delicate elegance suggest that it was made for the private apartments of a wealthy or aristocratic owner. The top slides back to reveal three compartments, the two on either side covered with marquetry-veneered hinged lids. There is evidence that originally the central compartment was also covered by a lid; in the Huntington version this is still extant and comprises a writing- or reading-panel, and there is no reason to assume that this table did not have the same configuration.
    The decoration is of very fine quality, comprising both geometric and pictorial wood marquetry. Molitor came to Paris from Luxembourg in the 1770s and soon built up a remarkable client base which included members of Marie Antoinette’s circle and other aristocrats, but with the advent of the Revolution he closed his workshop for a few years before re-opening in the 1790s, when his business thrived once again. His meticulous craftsmanship and refined gilt-bronze mounts continued to be highly sought after by clients in both the Napoleonic and Restoration periods.
    The marquetry top of this table incorporates a fret pattern of satinwood and amaranth with, in the centre, a trompe l’oeil open box. The fret pattern with its domino-like marking is echoed on the lids of the drawer compartments and, because the drawers have been hidden from the damaging effects of light, it is possible to see the vibrant yellow colour of the original satinwood, and the strong pink colour of the tulipwood veneer inside the compartments.