Magnificent 18th–Century Mechanical Furniture by Abraham and David Roentgen on View at Metropolitan Museum

Abraham and David Roentgen’s story is a tale of international success, fame, luxury, and high honor.

The meteoric rise of the workshop of Abraham Roentgen (1711-93) and his son David (1743-1807) is the most spectacular chapter in the history of innovative 18th–century Continental furniture-making. Their original designs, combined with their use of intriguing mechanical devices, revolutionized traditional French and English furniture types. The resulting objects are magnificent and ingenious. At the turn of a key, many of them literally unfold to reveal hidden compartments, secret drawers, and mechanical and musical devices. The hallmark Roentgen style is characterized by grandeur, inventiveness, and meticulously detailed shapes. From its base in Germany, the workshop served an international clientele and the Roentgens utilized a sophisticated business model, which included intensive research on potential patrons’ personal tastes and forward-looking marketing and production techniques. “Neuwied Furniture,” as it was known, was sought after by rulers throughout Europe, from King Frederick William II of Prussia and Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette of France to Empress Catherine the Great of Russia.

More more on the story of the Roentgen’s and to see the exhibition live, it is at the Metropolitan Museum. For more information, visit the museum’s website

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Rolltop desk by David Roentgen, Demonstration

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