The ‘Neuwieder Kabinett’ ranks as a tour-de-force of European cabinetry. From 1768 on David Roentgen presided over his father Abraham’s workshop in Neuwied. This large secretary desk was the workshop’s most significant project of the 1770s. Working in the new Neoclassical style, the workshop perfected the art of creating delicate, colourful, mosaic-like images in fine marquetry, while also developing sophisticated technical mechanisms. The touch of a button opens doors and drawers, as well as, surprisingly, entire writing surfaces, and secret cases and compartments, all accompanied by the virtuoso music of flutes and chimes. Three such desks were produced, with slight variations. The most fully developed version entered the collection of the crown prince of Prussia in Berlin in 1779, thus securing for the workshop the important patronage of the later King Frederick William II. Designed for prestigious display, the immensely expensive cabinet embodied an absolutist claim to power, and served as a uniquely artistic technical monument to the prestige of its royal owner.


  • Title: Secretary Cabinet, "Neuwieder Kabinett"
  • Creator: David Roentgen
  • Date: 1777/1779
  • Rights: Photo © bpk - Photo Agency / Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Stephan Klonk │ Text © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Achim Stiegel
  • Place of origin: Neuwied and Paris, Germany and France
  • Physical Dimensions: w152 x h359 x d88 cm
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-018417
  • Provenance: Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz
  • Type: Secretary cabinet
  • External Link: http://www.smb.museum/museen-und-einrichtungen/kunstgewerbemuseum/home.html
  • Medium: Curly maple, grained maple, and mahogany; marquetry with rosewood, palisander, apple, and mulberry wood; carcass of oak, pine, cherry, and cedar; gilt bronze, enamel, brass, and steel

Additional Items

"Neuwieder Kabinett", großer Kabinettschrank

Secretary Cabinet, "Neuwieder Kabinett"

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