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Secretaire Riesener 1689

Secrétaire, attributed to the royal cabinetmaker Jean-Henri Riesener, French, Paris, c. 1785.
Oak veneered with ebony, set with panels of Japanese lacquer, gilt bronze mounts, black marble top

The front of this desk, known as a secrétaire, drops down to reveal an interior compartment divided into drawers, while the fall front itself becomes a writing surface. The entire body of interior fittings, made of solid mahogany, can be pulled out from the front, revealing secret lidded compartments below. Such shallow pieces of furniture that open or extend into larger objects were invented for the smaller, more intimate rooms of the later half of the 1700s.


Cabinet Pietre Dure Porphyry 3864

One of a Pair of Cabinets, attributed to Adam Weisweiler, French, Paris, c. 1810.

Oak veneered with ebony and pewter; set with pietre dure plaques and
micromosaic roundels, gilt bronze mounts; portor d'Italie marble tops.

The pietre dure (hardstone) plaques on this cabinet date from the late 1700s; they were probably made by Italian craftsmen and brought home as souvenirs by Northern European tourists. Connoisseurs appreciated the variety and rarity of the stones and artisans' skillful arrangement of them into mosaic and relief designs. Because of their value and popularity with collectors, such plaques were sometimes mounted into specially made and suitably grand cabinets.


Commode van Risenburgh and Lidded Bowl 3214

One of a Pair of Commodes, Bernard II van Risenburgh, French, Paris, c. 1750.
Oak and walnut veneered with bois satiné, amaranth, and kingwood, gilt-bronze mounts, campan rouge marble tops.

This commode is one of a pair which are both stamped BVRB and were made by Bernard van Risenburgh. They are not typical of his work, perhaps because they were made for a German client, Frederick Augustus II, Elector of Saxony and father-in-law of Louis, the Grand Dauphin, who ordered the cabinets. The bold and massive design of these mounts is not found on other works by van Risenburgh, and they may have been made by a German bronze caster. Van Risenburgh was an extremely versatile cabinetmaker, able to adapt the subtle French style to suit the taste of different cultures and patrons.

The end-grain kingwood veneers used to create the tree were stack-cut and assembled in such an artful manner that their concentric growth rings created the relief of the tree trunk and the texture on the leaves, in an exceptionally masterful application of marquetry technique by Bernard van Risenburg.


Commode Latz 1702

Commode, attributed to Jean-Pierre Latz, French, Paris, c. 1745-1749.
Oak and walnut veneered with bois satiné; gilt-bronze mounts; fleur de pêcher marble top.

The wave pattern of the book-matched satinwood veneer echoes the curving lines of the gilt-bronze mounts on this commode. In this extremely difficult process, veneers were cut at an angle through a piece of wood to produce ovals and then carefully placed so that the wood grain formed waving lines. The commode can be dated from the tax stamp on one of the mounts.

Although the commode is not stamped with a cabinetmaker's name, scholars are certain that it was made by Jean-Pierre Latz because his stamp was found on a commode of the same design in the Palazzo del Quirinale, Rome. That commode was part of a group of furniture that the French princess Louise-Elisabeth, elder daughter of Louis XV, brought with her when she and her husband, Don Philippe de Bourbon, came to Italy to rule Parma and Piacenza.


Baroque Table Leda Andromeda HS9495

Baroque Side Table, Italian, Rome, c. 1720-1730, carved and gilt linden wood with marble top.

The form and decoration of this massive table, animated by masks and female heads turning in all directions, display the dynamic style of the Baroque in Rome. Certain aspects, however, point to the transition toward the Rococo, including bits of draped garlands, the broken architectural elements, and the freely handled scrolls. Beneath the top, stretchers boldly curve out from the center to connect the four legs, which turn and twist outwards.


Italian Armchair Rosewood 3724

Armchair, Italian, Naples, c. 1780, rosewood and kingwood.

This chair probably once formed part of a suite of furniture designed in the late 1700s for a Neapolitan palace under the reign of Ferdinand IV of Bourbon. It is a masterfully executed object of a refined yet ingenious form, remarkable for its slender arms, which resemble billowing ribbons, dividing to form the armrest and then curving out before joining the seat of the chair. The chair combines French and English Neoclassical elements with novel Italian ones, such as the outwardly sweeping, undulating arms and the stunning marquetry patterns.

The ingenious parquetry is made of colorful wood veneers that follow the edges of arms, back, and legs, giving them the appearance of being stitched. Examination revealed that the chair rail above the legs is a later addition, and that the original would have included a serpentine border embellished with the same lively, stitch-like marquetry found on the other edges, further increasing the astonishing effect.


Turkish Bed Tilliard 3908

(Lit à la Turque)


Polonaise Bed 3878

Turkish Bed (Lit à la Turque), attributed to Jean-Baptiste Tilliard, French, Paris, c. 1750-1760.
Two-toned gilded beechwood, modern silk upholstery.    5 ft. 8 1/2 in. x 8 ft. 8 1/4 in. x 6 ft. 2 in.

In 18th century France, a bed of this shape was called a lit à la turque (Turkish bed) because of its two scrolling ends. This title does not refer to any specific Turkish design source but reflects the eighteenth-century preoccupation with anything exotic and unusual from foreign countries. Turkey, China, and Egypt were among the places that inspired craftsmen in their creation of romantic and luxurious interiors. The intention was not to accurately recreate foreign objects but to impart a feeling of exotic opulence, even if only through the name attached to an object. The fashion for things "Turkish" peaked in the mid 1700s, when Madame de Pompadour had a bedroom which was known as the chambre à la turque (Turkish bedroom) because paintings displayed in the room showed a slave girl presenting a cup of tea to a sultaness. Note the exceptional size of this bed.

Bed (Lit à la Polonaise), French, Paris, c. 1775-1780.      9 ft. 11 in. x 5 ft. 10 1/2 in. x 7 ft. 5 in.
Painted and gilded walnut, gilded iron, modern silk upholstery and passementerie, and ostrich feathers.

A grand bed like this one was meant to stand in a deep niche in the bedroom of the main apartment of a palace or mansion. In the 1700s, visitors were frequently received in the bedroom, while the host or hostess was still in bed or at his or her dressing table. The lit à la Polonaise, named after Louis XV's Polish Queen, Marie Leszczyńska, had a baldachin which was roofed by a dome held in place by curved iron bars hidden by curtain rods. The canopy is of smaller dimensions than the surface of the bed. The upholstery was usually elaborately detailed, and was often made from silk, the most often used fabric in grand interiors.


The Getty Furniture page contains 60 images of cabinets, commodes, cupboards, tables,
chairs, beds and other decorative objects compiled from several visits to the Getty Center.
Included are several superb examples of Mannerist, Baroque and Regency craftsmanship.


Wall Clock Dragon Monkey and Flowers 1713


Barometer Cressent 1714

Wall Clock, Charles Voisin, Chantilly Porcelain Manufactory, French, Paris and Chantilly, c. 1740

This unusual wall clock has a case made entirely of soft-paste porcelain. The porcelain manufactory of Chantilly was owned by the Prince de Condé, which began to produce works in 1725 under the leadership of Ciquaire Cirou, using an opaque tin glaze rather than the translucent lead glaze used by other factories. Early products were mostly copies of Japanese porcelain from the large collection of the Prince. By 1740 (the date of this clock) the factory was producing objects in the contemporary French style, but the oriental influence can be seen in the incorporation of an exotic dragon and a monkey into the floral design.

Barometer on a Bracket, attributed to Charles Cressent, French, Paris, c. 1755

The cabinetmaker Charles Cressent made this clock case. In the corner of the pastel painting of Gabriel Bernard de Rieux by Maurice-Quentin de la Tour sits a similar model in the form of a clock standing on a cabinet. One of the most important ébénistes of the 1700s, Cressent originally trained as a sculptor and liked to design and make his own gilt bronze mounts. This practice, which broke strict guild regulations, brought large fines and forced him to hold several sales of his works.


Torchere Carlini 1699


Planisphere Clock Latz HS9550

One of a Pair of Torchéres, designed by Pieter de Swart, carved by Agostino Carlini (lead craftsman),
Dutch, c. 1748-1753. Gessoed, painted, and gilt limewood; crushed glass; base possibly of dogwood.

Carved with dragons, flowers, and grotesque masks, these large torchéres or candlestands are part of a set of eight made for the Oranjezaal (Orange  Room) of Prince William IV of Orange and Nassau in his summer residence of Huis ten Bosch (the House in the Woods) just outside the Hague. Crushed and gilded glass set into the base provides a contrasting  textural surface to the gilded and burnished gilding above.

Torchéres were used as stands for candelabra and were usually placed in pairs on either side of a table or in the corners of a room. These torchéres were most likely made to support crystal girandoles or candelabra, but they serve as lively decorative pieces in their own right. The detailed carving and playful figurative forms are a combination of the energetic Rococo styles practiced in France, Italy and the Netherlands in the mid-18th century and demonstrate Swart's internationalism.

Planisphere Clock, Jean-Pierre Latz, furniture worker, French, Paris, 1745-1749.
Oak veneered with kingwood, mahogany, and bois satiné; bronze mounts; brass dials.

Alexandre Fortier’s movement for this highly complex terrestrial and astronomical clock is missing, but this elaborate timepiece demonstrates the level of astronomical knowledge of 18th-century French scientists. Alexandre Fortier was a mathematician and inventor in Paris in the first half of the 17th century. The case itself, with its distinctive form and gilt mounts is attributed to Jean-Pierre Latz. The case is divided into two parts. The main dial is covered by a circular convex glass, the smaller dials by a shaped panel of flat glass. The sides are fitted with solid doors on hinges. The remaining areas of the case are veneered with kingwood, and panels of trellis parquetry are set below the dial and on the sides. The hollow lower section of the base is of bombe form and raised on short cabriole legs. It is veneered with kingwood and bois satine, the front and sides bearing panels of trellis parquetry. Very few such elaborate clocks have survived to the present, and only four of Latz’s signed clocks survive.


Mantel Clock Martincourt 1685

Mantel Clock, Étienne Martincourt, Movement by Charles Le Roy & Son.
French, Paris, c. 1765-1772, gilt and chased bronze, enameled metal.

This mantel clock is a masterpiece of modeling, casting, chasing and gilding. All of the small decorative elements such as the garland of laurel around the face, the rosettes filling the trellis on the plinth, and the husks in the flutes of the vase support were cast together with the major elements which they decorate rather than being made separately and attached afterwards. To the left sits an allegorical female figure with a celestial globe represents Astronomy (or Sidereal Time), and on the right, an allegorical female figure representing Geography (or Terrestrial Time) holds a loosely rolled map. Both figures are well modeled and must have been made by an accomplished sculptor.


Medici Night Clock Pietre Dure Foggini 3227

Night Clock, Giovanni Battista Foggini, woodwork: Leonard van der Vinne.
Italian, Florence, 1704-1705, ebony, gilt bronze, and semiprecious stones.

Giovanni Battista Foggini was artistic director for the Grand Duke of Tuscany in Florence from 1694-1725. During this time, table clocks became more fashionable, Most had ebony cases with pietre dure reliefs or mosaics and gilded bronze appliqués. On this night clock, a multicolored parrot draws the attention to the clock face, along with stylized flowers. A seahorse spirals across the center of the clock base, flanked by two small dragons on the column plinths. There is a third dragon on the cornice just below the clock face. Leonardo van der Vinne, the Flemish ebony specialist, made the case. Atop the case are two dynamic putti resting on volutes and on the crowning pillar, a miniature of Pietro Tacca's bronze of c. 1630 called "Il Porcellino" (the piglet), one of the most famous symbols of Florence, which was copied from a Hellenistic marble in the Uffizi.


Roman Gold Beaker 2177

Beaker, Roman, Knidos (Turkey), 1st century AD, gold.
One of only six gold vessels to have survived since antiquity.


Standing Vase Thomire HS9612

Standing Vase, Mounts attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire.
Porcelain: Chinese, mid-1700s; Mounts: French, about 1785.

This vase was once part of the collection of the Polish Princess Isabella Lubomirska, a great friend of Marie-Antoinette. The Polish princess, who spent a great deal of time in Paris before the French  Revolution, is reputed to have acquired this vase (and much more) at the sale of the contents of the palace of Versailles in 1794, bringing twenty coachloads of furniture back to her estates in Poland. Another was bought from Thomire et Cie. (maker of the mounts, who bought it at the Revolution sale) by the Prince Regent (later King George IV) for his London residence, Carlton House. That vase now stands in Windsor Castle.


Volute Krater Apollo and Artemis HS4153

Mixing Vessel with Apollo and Artemis, attributed to the Palermo Painter,
Greek, Lucania, South Italy, about 415-400 BC, terracotta Volute Krater (22 in. tall).

A fine example of Lucanian ceramics, this is the only volute krater that can currently be attributed to the Palermo Painter.

A gathering of deities decorates the front of this red-figure volute krater, made in a Greek colony in the region of Lucania in southern Italy. The twin gods Apollo and Artemis occupy the center of the scene. Apollo holds a kithara, denoting his role as god of music, and Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, is accompanied by her sacred deer. Their mother Leto stands at the right. On the left, the god Hermes leans on a pillar inscribed with his name, which represents either a boundary marker or a goalpost. Two pairs of youths stand conversing on the back of the vase.

The volute krater was a large serving vessel used to mix wine and water at a symposium or drinking party. Large symposium vessels like this one began to be produced in the Greek colonies in Italy in the late 400s B.C. Before this time, the colonists had simply imported their fine pottery from Athens, but at this time local painted pottery workshops emerged. Proportionally few vases made in Lucania, the "toe" of Italy, have survived.


The Decorative Art page contains 50 images of clocks, vases, candelabra, and other
decorative objects taken at Getty Center, compiled from several visits to the museum.
Eight images of a Kylix (wine cup) and three Amphorae taken after they were moved
to the Getty Villa are included among the images which are displayed on this page.


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