The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Secretaire
  • Martin Carlin (1730 - 1785)
  • France
  • c. 1776
  • Oak, veneered with tulipwood, amaranth and kingwood with stringings of sycamore and box; Carrara marble, Sèvres porcelain, gilt-bronze and velvet
  • Object size: 118.6 x 100.5 x 38.5 cm
  • Stamp: 'M (surname obliterated) / JME'
    Stamp: '(obliterated maker's mark) / JME'
    Label: 'III7 Cabinet, inlay of woods, with plaques Sèvres porcelain and gilt metal: French, 18th century' Bethnal Green catalogue entry
    Inscription: Drawer and drawer compartments are numbered 1 - 6 starting at the bottom left and then going from top to bottom on the right In ink
  • F304
  • Oval Drawing Room
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Sèvres porcelain plaques were first made for use on furniture in the late 1750s. The cabinet-maker Martin Carlin (c.1730-85) specialised in this kind of furniture, decorated with delicate floral panels of Sèvres porcelain. This desk ('secrétaire à abattant') was probably commissioned by the prominent dealers ('marchands-merciers') Simon-Philippe Poirier and Dominique Daguerre who dominated the market in this type of furniture. The front panel on which the plaque is mounted drops forward to reveal a rich interior of drawers and pigeonholes, with further drawers in the frieze and under the fall-front. The shelves on either side would have been for display.
    The floral swag mounts along the frieze of the desk and the elegant tapering legs are typical of the neo-classical style, and of work by Carlin. The rich pink and purple colours of the wood veneers, now faded, would once have matched some of the bright colours on the porcelain plaques. The drawer front on the stand is mounted with a central apron-shaped plaque in a gilt-bronze surround, imitating a fringed drape, a form harking back to furniture of the late seventeenth century.