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Fall-front desk
  • Date: 1783
  • Medium: Oak, burr wood (probably yew), purplewood, stained woods, ebony or ebonised wood, box, gilt bronze, Carrara marble
  • Object size: 138.5 x 98.8 x 42.5 cm
  • Inv: F303
  • Location: Study
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Further Reading
  • This desk was supplied by Riesener — Marie-Antoinette’s favourite cabinetmaker — as part of a suite of furniture that also comprised a corner cupboard and a chest of drawers, and was put in the queen’s study in her private apartments at Versailles. The suite was originally intended for her rooms at Marly, another royal residence, but it was diverted to Versailles to take the place of some older furniture while a new suite of lacquer furniture that she had just ordered was being made. Once this new furniture arrived, this desk and accompanying items were sent to Marly, but evidently the queen liked them enormously as they were soon returned to Versailles to furnish another suite of her rooms on the ground floor of the palace. The corner cupboard that matches this desk is also in the Wallace Collection (F275).

    The appearance of both pieces has changed markedly from their delivery in 1783, as originally they were decorated with a marquetry veneer instead of burr wood. It is also likely that the gilt-bronze medallion in the centre, which depicts ‘The Sacrifice to Love’, has replaced a wood marquetry trophy. These changes may have taken place at the end of the eighteenth century, or early in the nineteenth century, and reflect the changing tastes of the period.