The David Roentgen exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum ends on Jan. 27. It is extremely worthwhile. I went for the second time last Sunday and was astounded by the quality of the craftsmanship. Every aspect, from the mechanics within the furniture, the ormolu, the choice of timbers and the marquetry were just non-pareil. Roentgen has been labeled by some as the greatest cabinetmaker of all time because of this. He had to be as his clients were the French, Russian and German royal families, not to mention Francois Arouet, better known as Voltaire.
I have a problem with Roentgen, however. He may well be the greatest cabinetmaker of all time, but some of his furniture, largely due to the mechanical nature of it, is bulky and disproportionate. I would call it palace furniture which is both a detriment and a compliment. It is clear that his clientele cared about all the secret compartments, gadgets and gewgaws that Roentgen could throw into a piece and why not? But this over the top mentality reminds me vaguely of the fins on a Cadillac. Classic and fun, but not what you would wish to be driving daily.