THE COLLECTION
Secretaire
  • Date: 1783
  • Medium: Oak veneered with satiné, sycamore, ebony, box, amaranth, burr walnut and tulipwood; Carrara marble, gilt bronze, leather and brass.
  • Object size: 139.6 x 80.5 x 42 cm
  • Inv: F302
  • Location: East Galleries I
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Description
Provenance
Marks/Inscriptions
Further Reading
  • Marie-Antoinette escaped the rigours of court etiquette by visiting the Petit Trianon, a small but perfectly-formed house in the grounds of Versailles that became her personal retreat. Both she and her husband, Louis XVI, had apartments there and she was involved in choosing the furniture for their rooms. This desk, with a fall-front that hides a number of small drawers and pigeon-holes and drops down to provide a writing surface, was supplied for the Petit Trianon by Riesener, her favourite cabinet-maker, on 8 March 1783. Most of the archives of the Garde-Meuble de la Reine, one of the organisations that supplied the Queen with furniture for her apartments, have been lost so we do not know for which room it was intended. The veneer decoration, with its lozenge pattern marquetry, is characteristic of the furniture Riesener supplied for the queen and other members of the royal family. Originally the marquetry would have been a much richer colour, but this has faded with time. The delicate gilt-bronze mounts, depicting flowers and ribbons, echo the flowers grown in the gardens of the Petit Trianon, and are typical of Marie-Antoinette’s love for the rural idyll.
    The central medallion has been added later. It is not clear when this occurred, but it is possible that it was in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century, probably in Riesener’s life-time and maybe even done by Riesener himself. It is likely to have replaced an earlier, marquetry medallion.