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Attributed to Jean-Henri Riesener
French, Paris, about 1785
Oak veneered with ebony; set with panels of Japanese lacquer; gilt bronze mounts; black marble top
H: 5 ft. 1 in. x W: 3 ft. 8 1/2 in. x D: 1 ft. 6 3/8 in.

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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.

Detail Views

Gilt bronze mounts
Gilt bronze mounts

Other Views

Front open
Front open