This golden bureau-dressing-table secrétaire à abattant, is a masterpiece of antiquarian 'Art' furniture designed around 1800. Conceived as a tall French pier-commode-table, it reflects the French/Antique style promoted by fashionable marchands merciers. With its statuary marble intended for vase-display in Roman 'columbarium' manner, it relates to the fashion advertised by Thomas Hope's, Household Furniture and Interior Decoration (1807), and romantically associated with Homeric themes of 'sacrifices at love's altar in antiquity'.
The fall's ribbon-fretted tablet, evoking the triumph of 'Peace and Plenty', derives from a late 17th century dressing-table, that is likely to have been designed by William III's Paris-trained 'architect' Daniel Marot (d. 1752) (see Marot's Desus de Table patterns issued in his Nouveaux Livre d'ornements proper pour faire en Broderie et petit point). With its Roman mosaic of laurelled ribbons framing pelta-scrolled spandrels and a flowered and quatrefoild compartment, it also derives in part from engravings after Paul Androuet Du Cerceau issued in the mid 17th century in a Livre d'Ornements de feuillage.
While relating to furniture produced at Louis XIV's Gobelins Manufactury under the ébéniste du roi André Charles Boulle, (d.1732) (see Mariette's Meubles de...Marqueterie, Inventées...par André Charles Boulle, 1707); its superb quality is typical of 'boulle' manufactures associated with William III and Mary II's 'Cabinet maker in Ordinary' Gerreit Jensen (d.1715). Jensen's name, for instance, featured in the inventory of Queen Mary II's possession drawn up in March 1697 as the maker of two pier-sets, comprising 'Two tables, looking glasses and stands the frames all inlade with mettle'.
Amongst the leading manufacturers of such French fashioned furniture in the later 18th century had been the celebrated Soho firm of John Mayhew and William Ince (fl. c. 1758-1804), but the secretaire can perhaps best be associated with the furniture advertised in the early 19th century as in the latest 'Grecian' taste by their Soho neighbour James Newton Senior (fl. c. 1773-1821), whose Wardour Street premises had opened in the 1780's. Newton has been credited with the manufacture of another 'boulle' cabinet, resembling a secrétaire à abattant, that is thought to have been supplied around 1805 for Normanton Park, Rutland ( see G. Ellwood, 'James Newton', Furniture History Society Journal, 1995, fig.34).