Louis XV Writing Table Returns Home

On 12th December 2023, the French auction house Pescheteau-Badin, with the assistance of expert Pierre-François Dayot, presented the Louis XV table à écrire created by ébéniste Jean-Henri Riesener for the Petit Trianon in 1771, at auction at Hôtel Drouot (Paris).

Sold for €195,000 (including Buyer’s Premium) by auctioneer Brice Pescheteau-Badin to a French bidder in the room, the writing table was immediately pre-empted by the Centre des Monuments Nationaux for the Hôtel de la Marine. It will thus be returning to the Place de la Concorde where it was kept for several years, probably until the time of the sales held during the Revolution in 1793.


When Marie-Antoinette moved to the Petit Trianon, the “coffee room”, where this piece of furniture was located, was remodelled and the staircase and wood panelling removed. As Louis XV’s writing table no longer fit in, it was sent to the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne (formerly the Hôtel de la Marine) in 1776. In 1788, Marc-Antoine Thierry de Ville d’Avray, Commissaire Général de la Maison du Roi, decided to reuse the table for his own personal use and asked the great cabinetmaker Guillaume Benneman to undertake its restoration.

“Almost 230 years after leaving the Hôtel de la Marine, Louis XV’s writing table is now returning. It is gratifying to have contributed to its re-entering the public collection, where we hope it will remain much longer than its first visit to the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne.”
Brice Pescheteau-Badin, auctioneer.

“This is a piece that has its place in the history of furniture. We are delighted that this historic table à écrire is returning to the place where it spent most of the 18th century.
Pierre-François Dayot, expert.


The piece is described as a Louis XV sycamore and bois satiné gris table à écrire with geometric trelliswork marquetry, opening with one drawer with a marquetry frieze depicting child astronomers, the sliding drawer revealing a writing tablet concealing three compartments containing four solid rosewood drawers, the rectangular top surmounted by a three-quarter pierced gallery top, raised on four tapering square section legs terminating in square section moulded sabots, the underside bearing the number painted in ink: N°2605 (trace of a mechanism to operate the drawer now missing). By Jean-Henri Riesener and Guillaume Benneman (as restorer), stamped Guillaume Benneman. Period Louis XV, delivered to the Château du Trianon in 1771, then largely restored in 1788 under the direction of the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne. Height: 76.5 cm, Length: 96 cm, Depth: 63 cm.


It was delivered to Louis XV (1710-1774) by Jean Henri Riesener (1734-1806; made Master Ébéniste in 1768) for the Château de Trianon in 1771,
Conserved in the Hôtel of the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne in Paris between 1776 and 1786, restored and delivered by Guillaume Benneman (dies 1811; made Master Ébéniste in 1785) for the apartments of Madame de Ville d’Avray in the Hôtel du Garde Meuble de la Couronne, Place de la Concorde in 1788, with an antique dealer on quai Voltaire in Paris, circa 1938, Sale Drouot 13 March 1974 Maître Jozon, previously in the collection de Maurice Aicardi (1919-2007) in his appartement at the Palais Royal in Paris.

See also: Colour and Form at the Royal Geographical Society

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