This superbly cast relief plaque of the Sacrifice to Love must undoubtedly have been employed on a piece of furniture of the highest quality, almost certainly from the workshop of Jean-Henri Riesener. The same model of plaque, but with differing frames, appears on two fall-front secretaires by Riesener in the Wallace Collection, London, both supplied to Queen Marie Antoinette, one for her cabinet intérieur at Versailles, and the other for the Petit Trianon, both in 1783 (see P. Hughes, The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Furniture, London, 1996, vol. II, cat. 198 (F303), pp. 990-6, and cat. 199 (F302), pp. 996-1005).
The secretaire F303 for her cabinet intérieur was supplied together with a single encoignure with differing trophy mount, also at the Wallace Collection (F 275), and a commode, now apparently lost. While it is tempting to link the plaque offered here with the lost commode from this commission, the differences between its plain- moulded frame from those on the two pieces in the Wallace Collection (which both have a leaf-cast and beaded border), probably precludes this intriguing possibility.
A secretaire attributed to Riesener with the same Sacrifice to Love relief plaque, formerly in the Watson-Taylor and Hamilton Palace Collections, is in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (illustrated in G. Wilson and C. Hess, Summary Catalogue, Los Angeles, 2001, cat. 52, p. 30). A further relief plaque of this model was sold Christie's, New York, 20 November 1982, lot 305.
Much has been speculated on the bronziers responsible for the superb gilt-bronzes on Riesener's furniture. One distinct possibility is François Rémond (1747-1812), whose collaboration with both Riesener and David Roentgen is well documented, and who often utilized 'antique' compositions designed by the well-known academic sculptor, Louis-Simon Boizot (see C. Baulez, 'David Roentgen et François Rémond: Une Collaboration Majeure dans l' Histoire du Mobilier Européen,'L'Estampille/L'Objet d'Art, September 1996, pp. 96-118). Another possibility is the bronzier Etienne Martincourt, who is thought to have supplied the gilt-bronzes for the famous table made by Riesener for Pierre-Elisabeth de Fontanieu, now in Versailles. In the sale of the stock of the bronzier Feuchère in 1829, lot 400 comprised 'Divers bas-reliefs anciens de Martincourt...' (see P. Verlet, Les Bronzes Dorés Français du XVIIIe Siècle, Paris, 1987, p. 335).