• Date: 1783
    c.1864 - 1870 (English single-throw lock and raised oak panel lining inside of door fitted, also new marble top)
  • Medium: Oak, burr wood (probably yew), purplewood, stained woods, ebony or ebonised wood, box, gilt bronze, statuary marble, steel lock and key
  • Object size: 90.2 x 81.2 x 54.8 cm
  • Inv: F275
  • Location: Study
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Further Reading
  • This corner cupboard is part of a suite of furniture, which also comprised a desk and a chest-of-drawers, that was supplied by Marie-Antoinette's favourite cabinet-maker, Jean-Henri Riesener, and was placed in her study in her private apartments at Versailles. The suite was originally intended for her rooms at Marly, another royal residence, but it was diverted to Versailles to take the place of some older furniture while a new suite of lacquer furniture that she had ordered from Riesener was being made. Once the lacquer furniture arrived, this corner cupboard and accompanying items were sent to Marly, but evidently the queen liked them enormously as they were soon returned to Versailles to furnish another suite of her rooms on the ground floor of the palace. The desk that matches this corner cupboard is also in the Wallace Collection (F303).

    The appearance of both pieces has changed markedly from their delivery in 1783, as originally they were decorated with a marquetry veneer instead of burr wood. The changes may have taken place at the end of the eighteenth century, or early in the nineteenth century, and reflect the changing tastes of the period. The gilt-bronze mounts are sumptuous examples of the best work that decorated Riesener’s royal furniture, and incorporate stylised acanthus and naturalistic flowers of exceptional quality. The trophy on the door shows a pair of doves perched on a tambourine in the centre, with attributes of Cupid and Bacchus and a basket of flowers hanging on a ribbon. These themes of love and nature appear in many of Marie-Antoinette's interiors and on much of the furniture delivered for her by Riesener.

    Perhaps unusually, there was only ever one corner-cupboard delivered for Marie-Antoinette's study. The existence of another matching cupboard in the Wallace Collection (F276) that was once believed to have been the pair to this one underlines the desire of nineteenth-century collectors to acquire objects owned by the unfortunate queen, and may have been made intentionally to deceive.