This desk mounted with Sèvres porcelain plaques comes from the Hillingdon Collection, which was founded by Sir Charles Mills (1792–1880), a partner in the great firm of Glyn, Mills, Currie and Company, bankers to the British royal family. Tradition says that Sir Charles acquired the collection during a series of visits to France in the first half of the nineteenth century. Sir Charles’ son was created first Baron Hillingdon in 1886. In 1937, his descendants sold the collection to the well-known art dealers Duveen Brothers. Although various collectors, such as Calouste Gulbenkian and J. Paul Getty, were interested in buying the Hillingdon Collection, ultimately the majority of the artworks, including seventeen pieces of porcelain-mounted furniture, were acquired in 1947 by the cultural foundation that had been established by the American businessman and philanthropist Samuel H. Kress (1863–1955). Under the leadership of Samuel’s brother Rush H. Kress (1877–1963), the Samuel H. Kress Foundation gave these extraordinary objects to the Museum in 1958, making it the foremost repository in the world of Sèvres-mounted furniture.
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Signature: Signed under the arch of the left rear leg: JOSEPH, between two fleurs-de-lis
Sir Charles Mills, Baronet ; The Lords Hillingdon , London ; The Samuel H. Kress Foundation (until 1958; to MMA)
Artist:attributed to Joseph Baumhauer (French, active ca. 1749–72) Date:ca. 1770Medium:Oak veneered with tulipwood, purplewood, casuarina wood, kingwood, gilt-bronze mountsAccession:1977.177On view in:Gallery 526