Pierre I Roussel maître in 1745.
This rare form of secretaire coffre à bijoux belongs to a small and select group predominantly executed on commission for the marchands-merciers. Of these, perhaps the closest example is the unstamped but almost certainly Roussel coffre illustrated by R. Wark, French Decorative Art in the Huntington Collection, 1979, figs.70 and 72.
Further related examples include one, also stamped by Roussel, formerly 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 (illustrated in, 'French Taste in the Eighteenth Century', Exhibition Catalogue, Detroit Institute of Art, 27 April-June 3 1956, no.41, p.25.
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 naive landscape marquetry panels both of this and the Huntingdon cabinet are typical of Roussel's work, and recur on a number of signed pieces by him, for instance on a writing table and a cylinder bureau illustrated in J. Nicolay, L'Art et la Manière des Maîtres Ebénistes Français au XVIIIe Siècle, Paris, 1956, pp. 406-7, figs. A and F. Such panels would probably have been contracted out to a specialist marqueteur.
This charming cabinet bears the label of Frances Isabella Catherine, Marchioness of Bath (d. 1915), whose marriage to John Alexander Thynne, 4th Marquess of Bath (d. 1896), took place in 1861. It may have formed part of the furnishings of their London house at 48 Berkeley Square, or of the superb collection of French furniture assembled at Longleat, Wiltshire. It later passed into the collection of the industrialist Frank Green (d. 1955), who donated the Treasurer's House, York to the National Trust in 1930, and was described in 1922 by Christopher Hussey as a pioneer 'of the present taste for beautiful furniture'.