The J. Paul Getty Museum

Secrétaire

Object Details

Title:

Secrétaire

Artist/Maker:

Attributed to Jean-Henri Riesener (French, 1734 - 1806, master 1768, fournisseur du garde-meuble royal 1774 - 1784)

Culture:

French

Place:

Paris, France (Place Created)

Date:

about 1785

Medium:

Oak veneered with panels of Japanese lacquer and ebony; interior fittings of mahogany; gilt bronze mounts; black marble top

Object Number:

71.DA.104

Dimensions:

154.9 × 113 × 46.7 cm (61 × 44 1/2 × 18 3/8 in.)

See more

See less

Object Description

The front of this desk, known as a secrétaire, drops down to reveal an interior compartment divided into drawers, while the fall front itself becomes a writing surface. The entire body of interior fittings, made of solid mahogany, can be pulled out from the front, revealing secret lidded compartments below. Such shallow pieces of furniture that open or extend into larger objects were invented for the smaller, more intimate rooms of the later half of the 1700s.

Although researchers cannot find the Getty Museum's secrétaire listed in the royal inventories, it is of the same caliber as other pieces made for Marie-Antoinette and the French court. The mounts are finely chased in their smallest details, and the construction of the piece is of high quality.

Provenance
Provenance
- 1832

George Watson Taylor, English, 1771 - 1841 (the Anti-Drawing Room, Erlestoke Mansion, near Devizes, Wiltshire, England) [sold, The Magnificent Assemblage of Property at Erlestoke Mansion, Mr. George Robins, near Devizes, July 13, 1832, lot 26, for 63 guineas to Robert Hume, acting as agent for Alexander Archilbald Douglas, tenth duke of Hamilton and seventh duke of Brandon]
Source: The Secrètaire appears in sales catalogue of 'The Magnificent Assemblage of Property at Erlestoke Mansion' in section no. 24 "The Anti-Drawing Room" of the principal floor.

1832 - 1852

Alexander Archibald Douglas, tenth duke of Hamilton and seventh duke of Brandon, Scottish, 1767 - 1852 (Hamilton Palace, Lanarkshire, Scotland), by inheritance to his son, William Alexander Archibald Douglas, eleventh duke of Hamilton and eighth duke of Brandon.
Source: Listed in the Duke's Dressing Room in an inventory of 1835-1840. Information courtesy of Dr. Godfrey Evans, Director of the Virtual Hamilton Palace Trust.

1852 - 1863

William Alexander Archibald Douglas, eleventh duke of Hamilton and eighth duke of Brandon, Scottish, 1811 - 1863 (Hamilton Palace, Lanarkshire, Scotland), by inheritance to his son, William Alexander Louis Stephen Douglas-Hamilton, twelfth duke of Hamilton and ninth duke of Brandon.

1863 - 1882

William Alexander Louis Stephen Douglas-Hamilton, twelfth duke of Hamilton and ninth duke of Brandon, English, 1845 - 1895 (Hamilton Palace, Lanarkshire, Scotland) [sold, The Hamilton Palace Collection, Christie's, London, July 10, 1882, lot 1296, to Samson Wertheimer.]

1882 - about 1883

Samson Wertheimer, English, 1812 - 1892

about 1883

Cornelius Vanderbilt II, American, 1843 - 1899 (1 West 57th Street, New York, New York), by inheritance to wife, Alice Vanderbilt.

1899 - 1934

Alice Vanderbilt , wife of Cornelius Vanderbilt, II, American, 1846 - 1934 (857 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York), by inheritance to her daughter, Gladys Moore Vanderbilt.

1934 - 1953

Gladys Moore Vanderbilt , Countess Laszlo Széchényi, 1886 - 1965 (857 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York; then 1 East 66 Street, New York, New York), consigned to French & Company, New York, on June 26, 1953
Source: Information courtesy of Paul Miller, Newport Mansions, The Preservation Society of Newport County.

1953 - 1963

French and Company, Inc. (210 East 57th Street, New York, New York), on consignment from Gladys Moore Vanderbilt, Countess Laszlo Széchényi, June 26, 1953 to July 9, 1963.
Source: GRI French & Company Archive, 840027, box 63, folder 4, stock sheet 53930-X.

1963 - 1965

Gladys Moore Vanderbilt, 1886 - 1965, returned from consignment to French & Company, New York, on July 9, 1963.

1965 - 1971

Heirs of Gladys Moore Vanderbilt, 1886 - 1965 [sold, Sotheby's, London, November 26, 1971, lot 71, to the J. Paul Getty Museum]

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
The J. Paul Getty Collection of French Decorative Arts (October 3, 1972 to August 31, 1973)
  • The Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit), October 3, 1972 to August 31, 1973
Bibliography
Bibliography

Champeaux, Alfred de. Le Meuble II (Paris: A. Quantin, 1885), p. 232.

Redford, George. Art Sales: A History of Sales of Pictures and Other Works of Art; With Notices of the Collections Sold, Names of Owners, Titles of Pictures, Prices and Purchasers. 2 vols. (London: Bradbury, Agnew, & Co., 1888), vol. 1, p. 338.

Roberts, William. Memorials of Christie's: A Record of Art Sales from 1766 to 1896. 2 vols. (London: George Bell and Sons, 1897), vol. 2, p. 35, ill. (opposite p. 36).

Ricci, Seymour de. Louis XVI Furniture (London: W. Heinemann; New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1913), p. 147, ill.

Remington, Preston. "A Commode and a Secretary by Riesener." Metropolitan Museum Studies 1, no. 1 (November 1928), p. 51.

Watson, Francis J.B. Wallace Collection Catalogues: Furniture (London, 1956), p. 156.

Wilson, Gillian. "The J. Paul Getty Museum, 7ème partie: Le Mobilier Louis XVI." Connaissance des arts 280 (June 1975), p. 91, ill.

Fredericksen, Burton B., ed. The J. Paul Getty Museum: Greek and Roman Antiquities, Western European Paintings, French Decorative Arts of the Eighteenth Century (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1975), pp. 142, 174-75, ill.

Frel, Jiri, Burton B. Fredericksen, and Gillian Wilson. The J. Paul Getty Museum Guidebook, 3rd ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1975), pp. 80, 82, ill.

Wilson, Gillian. Decorative Arts in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1977), p. 93, no. 120.

Kjellberg, Pierre. Le Mobilier Français II (Paris: Le Prat, 1978), p. 79, fig. 70.

Buckland, Frances. "Die Karriere eines Kunstschreiners: Johann Heinrich Riesener, Ebenist am Hofe Ludqigs XVI." Kunst und Antiquitäten 6 (1980), p. 31, ill. p. 28, fig. 7.

Freyberger, Ronald. "Eighteenth-Century French Furniture from Hamilton Palace." Apollo 114, no. 238 (December 1981), pp. 407-408, ill. p. 405, pl. 20.

Wilson, Gillian. Selections from the Decorative Arts in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1983), pp. 82-83, no. 41.

French Connections: Scotland & the Arts of France (Edinburgh: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, Royal Scottish Museum, 1985), pp. 78, 81, 84, ill. p. 83, fig. 47.

Sotheby's, New York. 19th Century Furniture, Decorations, and Works of Art. June 22, 1985, n.p., with lot 199.

Sassoon, Adrian, and Gillian Wilson. Decorative Arts: A Handbook of the Collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986), p. 23, no. 50.

Paredes, Liana. "Mueble Frances en el Museo Getty." Antiquaria 4, no. 38 (1987), p. 27, ill.

Kjellberg, Pierre. Le Mobilier français du XVIIIe siècle: Dictionnaire des ébénistes et des menuisiers (Paris: Éditions de l'Amateur, 1989), p. 712, ill. p. 707.

Bremer-David, Charissa, et al. Decorative Arts: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue of the Collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1993), pp. 43-44, no. 53.

Hughes, Peter. The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Furniture. 3 vols. (London: Trustees of the Wallace Collection, 1996), vol. 2 (1996), p. 1004.

Wilson, Gillian, and Catherine Hess. Summary Catalogue of European Decorative Arts in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 30, no. 52.

Rieder, Willian. "A Royal Commode and Secretaire by Riesener." The Journal of the Furniture History Society XXXVIII (2002), n26 p. 96.

Christie's, London. The Champalimaud Collection: Evening Sale. July 6, 2005, p. 216.

Christie's, New York. Important European Furniture, Works of Art, Ceramics and Carpets. April 20, 2007, p. 174.

Vignon, Charlotte, and Christian Baulez. Pierre Gouthière: Virtuoso Gilder at the French Court, exh. cat. (New York: The Frick Collection, with D Giles Limited, 2016), pp. 145, 148, fig. 87.