This secretaire represents the idiom of Berlin furniture making at its best. Typical features of Berlin case furniture of the late 18th and early 19th century are combination of alabaster, mahogany and ormolu. On the inside a large variety of precious veneers are used to create the illusion of an architectural interior with three arcaded spaces each with a different floor, surmounted by drawers simulating a balustrade also inlaid with shell motifs. The three arches are further accentuated by alabaster pilasters making the whole a showcase of the cabinetmakers craft. Beyond the exterior, the back and carcass also have been constructed and finished to the highest standards.
The quality of the craftsmanship of the present secretaire leads us to believe that this was made as a masterpiece. A masterpiece had to comply with certain criteria which were not required for a standard item of furniture: The carcass had to be constructed out of oak; the back had to be panelled, the drawers should be divided by dust-boards; the drawers themselves were to be made without the use of nails. This secretaire is made to all these requirements. In fact the same care and diligence has been applied to the construction as has been to the extrior and interior.
One of the distinguishing design features of this secretaire are the pierced Greek scrolls supporting the pilasters, which are echoed in the angles below. The same type of pierced Greek scrolls can be seen on another Berlin Secretaire fitted with a wind organ and a clock signed Georg Ruppert. This secretaire shows further similarities i n the design of the fitted interior and the superstructure with mirror panelled doors. Unfortunately not much is known about Ruppert.
We would to thank Dr. Achim Stiegel for his help in preparing this note. A report on this secretaire by Dr. Stiegel will be provided with the secretaire, copies are available upon request.
See R. Pressler, S. Doebner & W. Eller, Antique Biedermeier Furniture, 2002, Atglen, USA, p. 134, no 167.