Robb Design Portfolio: Writ for a Queen

  • Andrew Myers

Marie Antoinette’s custom desk.

Neither the many accolades heaped upon nor the charges leveled at Marie Antoinette during and after her lifetime—Queen of Fashion and Style, Queen of Prodigal Spending and Debt—include the adjective literary. Nevertheless, while at the Petit Trianon, the French queen’s much-cherished retreat on the grounds of Versailles, she likely executed her letters at this desk.

Created for the queen by one of her favorite cabinetmakers, Jean-Henri Riesener, the Louis XVI–style writing table has a veneer of precious woods and elaborately chased, pierced, and gilded bronze mounts; the rectangular reliefs depict the arts and sciences. The piece is ink-marked "du Nº 84" and fire-marked "Garde Meuble de la Reine" (furniture keeper for the queen) and "CT" (for "Château de Trianon"). Its owner—Parisian antiques firm Kraemer & Cie (+33.1.45.63.2446)—believes the piece is the only example of the queen’s writing desks of this size and quality still in private hands.

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