The bronze-enriched Grecian 'cippus'-chest lady's secretaire, with palm-flowered dome, is embellished with flowered laurel tablets wreathing a bas-relief of Sappho of Lesbos and celebrating Poetry's Triumph. The Grecian lyric poet, known by Plato as the tenth Muse, was also called 'The Poetess', as Homer was called 'The Poet'. The Grecian stepped-plinth chest is embellished with lozenged tablets and festive 'Egyptian' lion masks, while the palm-flowered frieze displays medallions of poets.
This secretaire is executed in the South German Empire style of the early 1800s. It was almost certainly made in Munich, where the Court of Elector Max IV Joseph, from 1806, King Max I of Bavaria, maintained strong political and artistic ties with the Imperial Court in Paris. As a result the Napoleonic style was emulated from circa 1799.
A closely related secretaire, with virtually identical scrolling cornice and laurel-framed fall-front, was executed for the Residenz and is illustrated in H. Kreisel and G. Himmelheber, Die Kunst des deutschen Mbels, Munich, 1973, vol. III, p. 80, fig. 321.
A virtually identical mount of the poetess Sappho, features on a console table in the Neues Schloss at Neuwied (H. Kreisel and G. Himmelheber, ibid, fig. 326).