J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Saturday, January 16, 2021

Desk Job

Since I spent much of the afternoon assembling furniture, of the cheap, practical kind, I’m linking to this exploration of a writing desk made about 1778.

Part of Google’s Arts & Culture collaboration with museums around the world, this page combines close-up images of the desk with an analysis of how it was made, and by whom.
The ébéniste (furniture maker), Martin Carlin, put the entire piece together, including carving the wooden parts and applying the plaques and bronzes. A locksmith installed the locking mechanism for the drawer. A different person supplied the leather for the bureau top.

Dominique Daguerre not only coordinated all this work, but also designed the piece and purchased the materials. Daguerre, an art and furnishings merchant called a marchand-mercier, sold the finished piece to a very special buyer . . .

Catherine the Great, Czarina of Russia from 1762-1796, commissioned Pavlovsk as a gift for her son Paul Petrovitch and his wife, Maria Feodorovna
Sold by the Soviet government in 1931, the desk is at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, but we can appreciate it from our homes.

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