Secrétaire à abattant

Object Details


Secrétaire à abattant


Martin Carlin (French, born Germany, about 1730 - 1785, master 1766)

Circular plaque painted by Jean-Jacques Pierre le jeune (French, about 1745 - about 1800, active Sèvres, 1763 - 1800)

Two frieze and two spandrel plaques painted by Claude Couturier (French, died 1775, active 1762 - 1775)

Central frieze plaque gilded by Etienne-Henri Le Guay (French, 1719/1720 - about 1799, active 1748 - 1749, 1751 - 1796)

Sèvres Manufactory (French, active 1756 - present)




Paris France Sèvres France (Place created)


about 1775


Oak veneered w/ebony, holly, stained holly, amaranth and tulipwood, incised w/colored mastics, set w/soft-paste porcelain plaques w/bleu céleste ground color, polychrome enamel and gilding; gilt-bronze mounts; white marble top


120 x 94 x 34 cm (47 1/4 x 37 x 13 3/8 in.)

Credit Line:

Gift of J. Paul Getty

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Many new styles of writing desks appeared in the 1700s. Desks such as this delicate model were not designed for serious work; rather, these precious objects ornamented the room while providing their owners with a place to lock up their private letters. The front of this piece opens to reveal a velvet-lined writing surface and several drawers surrounding a pigeonhole.

Parisian marchands-merciers were the first to use Sèvres porcelain plaques to decorate furniture. Creating a writing desk like this one was a complicated process involving many stages. First the dealer commissioned a design and ordered plaques from the Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory. He then selected an ébéniste to make and veneer the carcass of the desk, leaving space for the plaques. A variety of craftsmen designed and made the gilt bronze mounts. Another specialized worker lined the drawers with silk or velvet. Finally, the ébénisteassembled the desk and returned it to the dealer to be sold.

The two frieze and two spandrel plaques were painted by Claude Couturier. The central frieze plaque was gilded by Pierre-André Le Guay.

by 1903 -

Baron Nathaniel (Mayer) von Rothschild, Austrian, 1836 - 1905 (Vienna, Austria)

- 1938

Baron Alphonse (Mayer) von Rothschild, Austrian, 1878 - 1942 (Vienna, Austria), looted by the Nazis, March 1938.

1938 -

In the possession of the Nazis

1947 - 1950

Restituted to Baronin Clarice von Rothschild, Austrian, 1874 - 1967 (Vienna, Austria), widow of Baron Alphonse (Mayer) von Rothschild, sent to New York shortly afterward and sold privately in 1950.


Rosenberg & Stiebel, Inc. (New York City, New York), sold to J. Paul Getty, 1950.

1950 - 1965

J. Paul Getty, American, 1892 - 1976, donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1965.