CARLIN, Martin
(b. ca. 1730, Freiburg im Breisgau, d. 1785, Paris)

Combination table

c. 1775
Oak and pine veneered with tulipwood, sycamore, holly, boxwood and ebony; Carrara marble; gilt-bronze mounts; accessories of Sèvres porcelain, rock crystal, silver gilt, and lacquer, 74 x 71 x 42 cm (overall, table)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The daily ritual of dressing and grooming was taken very seriously in France, and it was not unusual for an aristocratic lady to receive visitors, who could even be called upon to assist her. Special pieces of furniture were designed for the toilette, such as this elegant marquetry table signed by Martin Carlin, which is more versatile than most dressing tables. The upper section can be removed to serve as a bed table, as it has its own short legs (24 x 68 x 40 cm). It is fitted with an adjustable mirror that can be reversed to form a book rest. A shallow drawer is provided in front, and the lidded compartments on either side are used for the storage of toilet articles. The lower section is a full size table with a marble top, pull-out shelves in front and back, and drawers on both ends holding equipment for dressing, breakfasting, and writing. A trelliswork pattern enclosing rosettes, which may have been based on designs seen in Japanese lacquerwork, embellishes the exterior of this multipurpose piece, which is further enriched with gilt-bronze mounts.

The table is a typical product of a marchand-mercier, who would have bought or ordered the various rock crystal, Sèvres porcelain, and silver accoutrements and engaged a cabinetmaker to create the wooden frame. Martin Carlin, a German-born cabinetmaker who had settled in Paris by 1759, specialized in making expensive and fashionable furniture.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.