The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Copy of the writing-table of the Elector of Bavaria
  • Writing-table
  • Copy of the writing-table of the Elector of Bavaria
  • John Webb (active between: about 1825-1860)
  • England
  • 1854 - 1857
  • Oak, ebony, Macassar ebony, première-partie Boulle marquetry of brass and turtleshell, glass, gilt bronze, enamel, walnut, brass, silk, blued steel, steel key
  • Object size: 193 x 161 x 76.5 cm
  • Inscription: 'P Saphin / 59 Princes Street / Leicester Sqr. London' Engraved
  • F461
  • East Drawing Room
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This is one of two copies, supplied to the 4th Marquess of Hertford by the London cabinet-maker John Webb, of the writing-table of Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria (1662-1726), made for him in Paris in about 1715 and now in the Louvre, Paris. The movement of the clock is by Peter Saphin of London (working c.1841-74). The 4th Marquess ordered drawings of the original desk (then in the collection of the Duke of Buccleuch) when it was exhibited at Gore House in London in 1853. The desk in the Wallace Collection was among seven copies of furniture made by Webb for the 4th Marquess after furniture displayed at the Gore House Exhibition. Interestingly, the 4th Marquess chose to replace the enamel plaques bearing the arms of the Elector of Bavaria with medallions bearing his own arms, those of the Seymour-Conway family, thus clearly demonstrating his ownership.

    The fact that the 4th Marquess wanted to have copies of French 18th-century furniture is fascinating; in some instances he paid as much, if not more, for copies as for original pieces. The high quality of workmanship of this desk is reflected in the high price he paid for it: £825 in 1857. John Webb (c. 1800-1872) was an upholsterer, cabinet-maker and dealer with premises in various West End addresses in the mid-nineteenth century: Old Bond Street, Cork Street and Grafton Street. He also employed a number of craftsmen but we do not know the identity of the highly-skilled workmen who worked on this desk. He retired from business in about 1860.

    The other copy is now in the Casa-Museu Medeiros e Almeida in Lisbon.