Jean-Henri Riesener, appointed bniste ordinaire du mobilier de la Couronne in 1774, matre in 1768.
Designed in the Louis XVI 'antique' manner, this 'secrtaire en cabinet' exemplifies the taste expounded by the celebrated marchand-mercier Dominique Daguerre around 1780. Established in the rue St. Honor, Daguerre specialised in the supply of objets de luxe to the French Court and, increasingly, the English aristocracy, and it is the restrained treatment of this secrtaire, with its dependence on the lustrous figuring of the mahogany for effect, combined with the jewel-like chasing of the mounts that were undoubtedly executed by a ciseleur-doreur such as Pierre-Philippe Thomire or Franois Rmond, that suggests the interference of a marchand-mercier.
Although this secrtaire belongs to a closely related group of three, the present example is distinguished by being the only one that is actually stamped by Riesener, the others having been confidently attributed on the basis of the present example. Of these, one was sold anonymously in Paris, Drouot, 31 March 1987, lot 212 and the other was sold from the collection of Alice Tully, Christie's New York, 26-28 October 1994, lot 278 ($203,500). Finally, a secrtaire by Reisener of similar conceit, but with simulated drawer-fronts instead of a figured fallfront, was offered anonymously at Christie's New York, 19 May 1988, lot 217.
Interestingly, the distinctive frieze mount of putti harvesting grapes also features on the celebrated suite of four mahogany encoignures supplied by Riesener for Queen Marie-Antoinette's use at the Petit Hameau, the 'rustic' pavilion at the Trianon. Of these, one pair is thought to have been subsequently acquired by Thomas Jefferson whilst in Paris, and these encoignures are now divided between the Institute of Fine Arts, Boston, the St. Louis Museum and a private collection in Germany.