Pierre I Roussel, 1723-1782, received maître in 1745.
This rare form of coffre à bijoux belongs to a small and select group predominantly executed on commission for the marchands-mercier. Of these, perhaps the closest example is the unstamped but almost probably by Roussel coffre illustrated by R. Wark, French Decorative Art in the Huntington Collection, 1979, figs.70 and 72. Although somewhat plainer and less richly mounted, the Huntington coffre also displays pictorial marquetry panels which were almost certainly executed by a specialist marqueteur.
Further related examples include that, also stamped by Roussell in the Severance Prentiss Bequest to the Cleveland Museum of Art (illustrated in the Catalogue of the Elizabeth Severance Prentiss Collection, Cleveland, 1944, pl.XV, p.42), and another, stamped by the marchand-ébéniste Léonard Boudin in the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco (illystrated in, 'French Taste in the Eighteenth Century', Exhibition Catalogue, Detroit Institute of Art, 27 April-June 3 1956, no.41, p.25.
Another related cabinet-on-stand was sold Sotheby's London, 19 April 1937, lot 174. Unstamped, it features a very similar river with swans in the marquetry on the central panel.
The most elaborate example, profusely inlaid with incrustations of mother-of-pearl and formerly in the collection of the Earls of Jersey at Middleton Park, was sold from the Jaime Ortiz-Patino Collection at Sotheby's New York, 20 May 1992, lot 71 ($352,000).
The distinctive 'naif' marquetry of teapots, vessels, flower-filled vases and urns, inspired by the ornamental borders of Chinese coromandel lacquer screens, is characteristic of the work of the ébéniste and specialist marqueteur Charles Topino. Based in the rue Faubourg-Saint-Antoine, Topino - as his daybook reveals - is known to have supplied marquetry panels of this type for his confr/geres, the marchand-ébénistes (A. Pradère, Les Ébénistes Français de Louis XIV à la Revolution, Paris, 1989, p.319.).
THE HILLINGDON COLLECTION
The celebrated Hillingdon Collection was formed by Sir Charles Mills, Bt. (1792-1872). The collection of French furniture and works of art, one of the greatest put together in England in the nineteenth century, included the largest single accumulation of Louis XV and XVI porcelain-mounted furniture ever to be assembled. Seventeen of the pieces (together with other furniture and Sèvres porcelain) were sold from the collection in 1936 and are now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (J. Parker et al, Decorative Art from the Samuel H. Kress Collection, Aylesbury, 1964, pp. 116-119 et passim). The highlights of the collection were preserved for posterity in the privately printed collection catalogue of 1891.
Edward Wheler Mills was a partner in his family's private bank, Glyn, Mills & Co., with his two brothers, who were also passionate collectors of French works of art. In 1825 he married Emily Cox, the daughter of a partner in Cox's Bank. He built a house near his wife's parents at Hillingdon, Middlesex and in London the Mills lived at Camelford House on the corner of Oxford Street and Park Lane. He was created a baronet in 1868. His son, created 1st Lord Hillingdon in 1886, continued to live at Camelford House but moved from Hillingdon Court to Wildernesse Park, near Sevenoaks.