A native of Steinbach, Germany, Diehl (d.1885) settled in Paris in 1840. He established a large atelier at 39, rue Saint-Sebastien, where by 1870 he employed no less than six hundred craftsmen. Diehl participated in all the major international exhibitions during the middle of the 19th century commencing with the Great Exhibition in 1851. Various pieces by Diehl are in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, the Musée de l'Ecole de Nancy, Nancy and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
The relief-cast roundel adorning the fall-front of this secrétaire is cast from the model by Mme. Léon Bertaux, née Hélène Hébert (1825 -1909). The daughter of the eminent sculptor Pierre Hébert (1804-1869) and wife of the artist Léon Bertaux, Hénène Bertaux was a distinguished sculptor in her own right. She did much to further the recognition of female artists during the nineteenth century, including founding the Society of Women Painters, Sculptors and Engravers in 1881 and petitioning the Ecole des Beaux-Arts to open its doors to women, in which she succeeded by being elected as its first female member in 1896. A marble version of the present relief was exhibited at the Paris 1889 Universelle Exposition and Bertaux also won medals in 1864, 1867, 1873.