Paris, c. 1780-1790
Mahogany, steel, gilt bronze
Bequest of Monsieur Etienne Moreau-Nélaton in memory of his father, 1927
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This writing desk has a steel base that could be dismantled, allowing it to be stored in a chest. Mechanical furniture had first appeared in the mid-eighteenth century, but experienced a new boom with pieces designed for traveling – a must for anyone who shared the philosophy of the Enlightenment.
The austerity and beauty of mahogany and steel – modern materials at that time - provided sufficient decoration for these furniture items whose appeal lay in their technical perfection.