The present casket, sumptuously mounted with porcelain plaques, is virtually identical to another example visible in Eduard Petrovich Hau's 1868 watercolour of the The Corner Drawing Room in the Fourth Reserve Apartment at the Winter Palace, St Petersburg (see The Winter Palace, ed. Emmanuel Ducamp, St Petersburg, 1995, pp. 262-3). Now in the collection of the Hermitage Museum, the latter, which is mounted on a four-legged stand, is noted as being signed by the Russian firm of Gambs Brothers, who supplied numerous important furniture commissions for several of the Imperial palaces during the mid-19th century (see N. Gysyeva, Russian Furniture in the Rococco Style, Moscow, 2003, p. 6), as well as participating in international exhibitions such as the 1851 London Great Exhibition.
Described as proprietors of 'ébénisterie de lux', the atelier of Tahan participated in many of the major international exhibitions between 1849 and 1867, winning a silver medal in 1849 and a Médaille d'or in 1867. However, as superior in quality as his works were, the 1867 exhibition jury questioned Tahan's role as sole producer of his exhibited pieces, considering his close relationship with various well-known ébénistes of the time, including Eugène Cornu and Joseph Cremer (see D. Ledoux-Lebard, Le Mobilier Français du XIXe Siècle, Paris, 1984, p. 595). Given this, and the existence of an almost identical casket signed by Gambs, it may well be that Tahan 'collaborated' with the Russian firm for the production of the present lot, and that the signature it bears is a mark of its retailer rather than maker.