Nicolas Petit, maître in 1761.
This remarkable "antiquarian" secretaire combines elegant Louis XVI marquetry with a rich array of pietra dura panels, many from the 17th and 18th Century, including the spectacular panel on the fall front with a colorful parrot perched on grapevine. The distinctive stones used on this panel could point to it having been produced in the Gobelins workshops in the 17th century-similar panels appear on a Gobelins tabletop made for Louis XIV, now in the château de Compiègne (illustrated in W. Koeppe and A. Giusti, Art of the Royal Court:Treasures in Pietre Dure from the Palaces of Europe, exh. cat., New York, 2008, p. 274, cat. 98), while the charming panels of courtly figures on the sides are typical of Florentine production in the 18th Century, for instance on a panel in the Museo dell' Opificio delle Pietre Dure (illustrated in A. Giusti, Pietre Dure and the Art of Florentine Inlay, London, 2005, p. 181). The pietra dura panels were probably added in the 19th Century, perhaps to order from an enlightened collector to enrich Petit's secretaire.
Fascinatingly, this secretaire provided a prototype for the celebrated 19th Century cabinet-maker Emmanuel Alfred Beurdeley who made two secretaires after this design, one of which he prized so much that he retained it in his personal collection. In a 1901 inventory of his hôtel particulier he listed the secretaire he had made, while referencing the prototype by Petit (which must be the secretaire offered here), describing his own secretaire as:
'd'après un modèle de Petit qui avait fait tout un mobilier semblable pour la couronne de France, ce qui explique la fleur de lys des côtés'
Like many other commentators of the time, he erroneously believed the presence of fleurs de lys pointed to a royal provenance. Beurdeley's secretaire was recently sold Bonham's, London, 6 July 2011, lot 162 (£96,000 inc. premium).