Pierre Roussel, matre in 1745.
This secrtaire abattant belongs to a small and distinguished group of furniture by Pierre Roussel (1723 - 1782) which uses this type of ruin views, such as popularised by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720 - 1778) in his views of Rome. The marquetry panels on these pieces appear to have been made by one or a group of specialty marqueteurs who supplied such bnistes as Jacques van Oostenrik, dit Dautriche, Daniel Deloose, Pierre Denizot, Andr Louis Gilbert, Louis-Nol Malle, Pierre Macret, Martin Ohnenberg, Nicolas Petit, Charles Topino, Christophe Wolff and of course Pierre Roussel (G. de Bellaigue, 'Engravings and the French Eighteenth Century Marqueteur', Burlington Magazine, May 1965, pp. 240 - 250 and July 1965, pp. 356 - 363). The variations in size of these panels indicate that they were made on commission.
There is a small number of recorded Roussel secrtaires abattants that are closely related to this one including one with the panels depicting monuments and gates on a checker ground and with two individually decorated doors to the lower half, the sides including similar vases, which is illustrated in A. Pradre, French Furniture Makers, Tours, 1989, p. 204, where he attributes the marquetry panels to A.L. Gilbert. Another of nearly identical shape and incorporating nearly identical mounts was sold anonymously at Marc Ferri, Paris, 15 December 1994, lot 224, while another attributed to Roussel with differing mounts and two individual marquetry panels to the lower part, was sold from 'The Distinguished Collection of a Lady' at Sotheby's Zurich, 9 December 1997, lot 259. Among the other types of furniture by Roussel that incorporate the ruin marquetry are a pair of encoignures that have the same type of mounts and that was sold anonymously at Sotheby's London, 11 December 1987, lot 263, another pair of encoignures in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (C. Packer, Paris Furniture, 1956, illus. 126 and 127), another pair in the Cleveland Museum of Art, and a commode sold anonymously at Sotheby's London, 6 July 1979, lot 246.
Very similar secrtaireS abattants by other cabinet-makers include one by Pierre Macret from the collection of Sir Michael Sobell, sold in these Rooms, 23 June 1994, lot 148, an unstamped secrtaire with ruin scenes after a painting by P.-A. de Machy, sold anonymously in these Rooms, 10 December 1992, lot 211 and another by Charles Topino that was sold anonymously at Sotheby's Monaco, 3 July 1993, lot 178.
The mounts on this secrtaire are identical to those on a number of pieces of furniture by Roussel such as on a bonheur-du-jour illustrated in P. Kjellberg, Le Mobilier Franais du XVIIIe Sicle, Paris, 1989, p. 740, fig. D. The inventory taken after the death of the bniste in March 1783 with the help of Jean-Franois Leleu and Charles Michel Cochois reveals among the creditors the master menusier Rosier, who must have supplied many of Roussel's carcases, Turchin and Andr-Antoine Ravrio as suppliers of bronzes and Trufot who gilt the bronzes.