This elegant Louis XVI secrétaire à abattant was crafted by the master ébéniste André Gilbert, a craftsman renowned for his extraordinary talent for marquetry. This cabinet is a superb example of his architectural inlaid designs, featuring colorful marquetry in rosewood, amaranth, stained holly, and mother of pearl. The exceptional three-dimensional scene captures a lively architectural landscape with billowing trees, ancient ruins and a bridge over a river leading to a walled town. Framed by a border of inlaid flowers and doré bronze mounts, the scenes are not only a stunning example of the art of marquetry, but also the timeless Neoclassical style.
This secrétaire à abattant is not only an item of remarkable beauty, but also a fully functional piece of furniture. The fall-front opening descends to reveal a full green leather writing surface, along with storage shelves and six drawers. The bottom doors conceal even more storage space, as well as a hidden safe for one's most important collectibles. Doré bronze accents of rosettes, foliage and urns further adorn the piece, which is finished by a white marble top.
Beginning in the early 18th century in France, secrétaires, writing bureaus, and bookcases became increasingly popular ain the homes of the wealthy and well educated. Secrétaires such as this became the focal point of estates, serving as statements of wealth, culture, and education. Today, the most splendid and sumptuous specimens of marquetry are diminishing in number due to the ravages of time, light exposure, and variations in the atmosphere. With its vivid colors of orange, reds, yellows, and green, this impeccably cared for secrétaire is truly a rare find.
An identical secrétaire is pictured in Mobilier Français du XVIIIe Siècle by P. Kjellberg, p. 358, plate A. Another version is pictured in Les Ebenistes du XVIII Siecle by F. de Salverte, plate 27. A smaller piece with similar marquetry attributed to Gilbert resides in the Frick Collection in New York.
Stamped "A. Gilbert JME" on upper right backside
38 1/2" wide x 16" deep x 57" high