Jean Mathieu Chevallier, maître in 1743
A closely related commode was included as lot 137 in the Cronier sale, now at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (no. C267), with similar bronzes, floral marquetry, and an identical marble top to the present secrétaire. All of this evidence indicates that these two pieces were made en suite for one room, possibly of Chinoiserie decoration, as indicated by their whimsical.
Two inventory entries written in Chevallier's shop upon his death in 1768, are relevant to the commode and secretaire being discussed here. The first lists "une commode de 4 pieds et demie a fleurs de bois de rose et violette a carrel garnie de ses fontes dorées d'or moulu marbre brêche d'alep, 750 livres." The high price of this commode was surely for a piece embellished richly with bronzes. The second entry lists "un secrétaire de trois pieds ©a fleurs de bois de rose a cartel de cuivre doré d'or moulu a dessus de marbre brêche d'alep, 350 livres." The two pieces, with ornate bronzes, have similar marquetry flowers, and identical marble tops, as the two from the Cronier sale.
Jean Mathieu Chevallier was born in Paris at the end of the 17th century and his family had associatins with members of the furniture trade throughout the eighteenth century. Two of his brothers were ébénistes, his sister married Charles Saulnier, and his daughter was involved with Antoine Criaerd. When Chevallier became a master and then a dealer, he installed himself on the rue de Grenelle, where clientele from the fashionable district of today's 7th arrondissement flocked to his shop called "A la Croix de Malte." His clients included la Princesse de Charollais, Mademoiselle de Sens, l'Ambassadeur de Suéde, le Prince de Grimberghem, le Duc de Valentinois, le Comte de Guerchy.