Drop-front desk (secrétaire à abattant or secrétaire en cabinet)

Various artists/makers

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 529

On December 30, 1773, the marchand mercier Simon-Philippe Poirier sold Madame Du Barry "a secretary with French porcelain on a green ground highly decorated with gilt-bronze mounts." That description fits this piece which has, furthermore, porcelain plaques bearing the date letter for 1773. Since the secretary is not listed in Madame Du Barry's inventory it is possible that she intended the piece as a wedding gift for Louis XVI's younger brother Charles-Philippe, comte d'Artois and the future Charles X (1757-1836) and Marie-Thérèse of Savoy (1756-1805) who were married in 1773. A similar piece of furniture was, indeed, recorded among the comtesse d'Artois's belongings at Versailles in 1795. Although the description is very detailed and even included dimensions that correspond to those of the Metropolitan's secretary, it failed to mention the color of the borders on the Sèvres plaques. It could thus as easily refer to a closely related secretary now at Waddesdon Manor in Aylesbury, England, which has plaques with blue borders.

Drop-front desk (secrétaire à abattant or secrétaire en cabinet), Martin Carlin (French, near Freiburg im Breisgau ca. 1730–1785 Paris), Oak veneered with tulipwood, amaranth, holly, and ebonized holly; ten soft-paste porcelain plaques; gilt-bronze mounts; marble; velvet (not original), French, Paris and Sèvres

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