Jean-François Œben, who also made a screen table held at the museum, is thought to have invented mechanical tables. These tables have a sliding tray that can be flipped up for use as an adjustable lectern and two side compartments covered with flaps.
On the right-hand side of the apron can be seen traces of a lock that would have released the sliding mechanism. A leaf spring located beneath the table top releases a secret drawer. The marquetry was inspired by the printed calico that was sent to Europe by merchants from the East India Company.
Œben was a Flemish cabinet-maker who moved to Paris in around 1740. He supplied many pieces of furniture to the marchand-mercier (decorative art dealer) Lazare Duvaux, one of whose most illustrious clients, Madame de Pompadour, went on to become Œben's patron. Œben's work is typical of the Transitional style and he played a key role in the movement towards Louise XVI style. The trend for 'Greek' style in particular became extremely popular at the time of his death.