The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Secretaire
  • André Schumann (active between: master 1779, active to 1787)
  • France
  • 1779 - 1787
  • Oak, veneered with mahogany, inlaid with stringings of box and ebony; Sèvres soft-paste porcelain, Cararra marble, gilt bronze and green leather
  • Object size: 124.5 x 71.5 x 38.8 cm
  • Stamp: 'A. SCHUMAN'
    Stamp: 'J. PIRET' Three only partially struck
  • F305
  • Oval Drawing Room
Further Reading
  • This desk was made by André Schuman but it probably looked rather different when it left his workshop. The large soft paste Sèvres plaques on the drop-front depicting a farmyard scene of a girl feeding chickens and two boys playing does not match the four corner plaques and was never intended to be mounted with them; they were probably originally intended for framing a clock dial. While the main plaque probably dates from the 1760s, it is likely that all five were only mounted onto the secretaire in the nineteenth century, when the fashion for Sèvres-mounted furniture revived.
    Five of the gilt-bronze mounts on the legs are stamped with the mark of J. Piret (active c. 1856-1876), who used Sèvres porcelain on other furniture that he made or restored, which suggests that he might have been responsible for the alterations of this piece. However, it has single-throw locks which mean that it was also restored at some time in England. It certainly had its present decoration by 1859 when it was bought for the 4th Marquess of Hertford.
    The model has been copied at least once in the nineteenth century, for example lot 217, Sotheby's New York, 30 October 2013, which is engraved 'E. POTEAU/59. Rue Turenne PARIS' on the lockplate.