The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Roll-top desk
  • Roll-top desk
  • Attributed to Jean-Henri Riesener (1734 - 1806)
  • France
  • c. 1785
  • Oak, mahogany, Carrara marble, gilt-bronze and leather
  • Object size: 124.2 x 121.5 x 68 cm
  • Inscription: 'Il n'est plus là il ne / s'occupe plus de rien / J'en ai parlé / D'avance / Mon fils et moi / C'est la même chose' In chalk
  • F277
  • Boudoir
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Although unstamped by Riesener, this desk can be securely attributed to him as it is very similar to the roll-top desk he supplied for Marie-Antoinette’s private apartment at the Tuileries in December 1784. The same features are also on the roll-top desk veneered with mother-of-pearl supplied by him for Marie-Antoinette's boudoir at Fontainebleau. Furniture veneered with large sections of plain mahogany was very popular at this date, and attractive pieces of flame mahogany veneer have been chosen for this desk. The candelabra on either side of the desk were to provide light for someone working at the desk in the evenings. A writing-stand can be pulled out and raised from the top of the desk. In his bill for a roll-top desk for Thierry de Ville d’Avray, Riesener described the stand of that desk as intended for writing when standing up. The desk was in the collection of the 4th Marquess by 1865, when lent to the Musée Rétrospectif, and it is recorded in the Hertford House inventories of 1890 and 1898, in the Canaletto Room (now the Sixteenth Century Gallery).
    The simplicity of the design and decoration looks forward to the furniture of the following two decades, and in 1874 when Sir Richard Wallace lent this desk to the Bethnal Green exhibition it was catalogued as being early nineteenth century.