The mind boggling furniture of Abraham and David Roentgen

The works of Abraham (1711-1793) and his son David Roentgen (1743-1807) are a category in itself. Some of the most elaborate furniture ever made. Riddled with hidden features, drawers, mechanics and decorated with over the top marquetry.

Even in their own time these pieces were considered to be the absolute top of the line. Only within reach of wealthy patrons, kings, noblemen and church leaders. Amongst their customers were the French queen Marie Antoinette and the Russian Catharina the Great.

Imagine this in a time before the industrial revolution. The technical innovations we know nowadays still had to be invented. Seeing furniture move like this must have been an absolute miracle.

These desks were the gadgets of their time, made to impress spectators. Status symbols to show off your wealth and social status. And while they seem practical, I always wonder how much time it will cost to find a lost fountainpen or paperclip…

All these pieces are inlayed with intricate marquetry work. Over time the colors faded, but when we see this video of the process, we can imagine what a visual bombardment it must have been.

Hintz English GuittarAs with most of these crafts giants I need a good reason to dig deeper in to the background. There are simply too many interesting subjects and too little time in an human life…

Fortunately I found an excuse when researching the English Guittar. The instrument I am reconstructing is very closte to the models made by John Frederick Hintz. Both Roentgen and Hintz were members of the same religious movement, the Moravian Brotherhood, also known as the “Hernhutters”. Written sources that they knew eachother and even travelled and worked together. Like the tin, mother-of-pearl and tortoise inlays on this English Guittar by Hintz, but also some of his tea tables and other furniture.

In 2012 there was a large exhibition of the Roentgen’s works at the Met in New York. One of the great things they do is recording and uploading lectures given at the museum to YouTube. This means they are accessable for people all over the world to study and learn…

 

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