Jean-François Leleu was one of the favoured assistants in the workshop of the great ébéniste Jean-François Oeben (1721-1763). After the early death of his master, he hoped to be entrusted with the running of the workshop, but was superseded by Jean-Henri Riesener (1734-1806), another of Oeben's assistants. Riesener married Oeben's widow and went on to become the court ébéniste of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette. Leleu left the workshop, became maître-ébéniste in 1764 and set up on his own. He attracted a grand and fastidious clientele, notably the Duc d'Uzés, Baron d'Ivry, and Ange-Laurent Lalive de Jully.
This elegant bureau plat represents the restrained style of Jean-François Leleu's latter oeuvre around 1790. It relates to a mahogany tric trac table, also stamped by this ébéniste, which is shown in P. Kjellberg, Le Mobilier Français du XVIIIe Siécle, Paris, 2002, p. 517.