Attributed to Martin Carlin (French, ca. 1730–1785)
Oak; tulipwood, purplewood, holly, and sycamore veneer; porcelain and tôle painted to imitate porcelain; gilt bronze
43 1/3 x 40 1/2 x 12 7/8 in. (110.1 x 102.9 x 32.7 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, 1976 (1976.155.110)
The large Sèvres porcelain plaque bears the date letter for 1776 and the decorator's mark of Edme-François Bouillat (active 175881). The secretary stood in Empress Maria Feodorovna's boudoir next to her bedchamber at Pavlovsk Palace. The desk was probably purchased in 1782, when she and Grand Duke Paul visited "incognito" as comte and comtesse du Nord the Paris shop of the marchand-mercier Daguerre. It is a document par excellence of the preeminent cultural influence of France throughout Europe during the ancien régime. A French side table of about 178590 made by Jean-Henri Riesener (17341806), from the collection of Maria Feodorovna and once kept in the Anichkov Palace in Saint Petersburg, is also in the Metropolitan Museum's collection (1977.102.8).