Gilbert, who also had a workshop in the same street as Boudin, was primarily known for making furniture with panels of architectural marquetry in both Louis XV and Transitional styles. There are a group of marquetry sécretaries stamped by Gilbert and/or Boudin which relate to the present lot. They share similar channelled friezes, panels with concave angles enclosed within identical cast frames and mounts on the canted angles. These are: - Madame Queniaux, sold Paris, 11th June 1908, lot 132 (ill.) and again in Paris, 6th December 1966, no.67 (ill.), stamped by both Gilbert and Boudin; - Maître Martin sale, Versailles, 11th November 1976, lot 152 (ill.), stamped by both Gilbert and Boudin; Sale in Paris, 20th November 1933, lot 116 (ill.) attributed to Gilbert; Anonymous sale, Sotheby’s Monaco, 23rd June 1985, lot 787 (ill.), stamped Boudin; A secrétaire recorded in the art market in 1971, stamped Gilbert.
The marchand-mercier label for Filaine et Compagnie in this piece indicates a date of around 1775, as Monsieur Filaine owed Boudin the large sum of 12,578 livres due by August 1775, but only paid towards the end of the following year.
The lacquer panels in this secrétaire have been previously attributed to the famous Martin brothers, who have given their name to the technique of vernis Martin. Nevertheless, it is possible that these panels are rare examples of distemper paintings produced in Canton in the second half of the 18th century, a hypothesis suggested by Thibaut Wolvesperges (Le meuble français en laque au XVIIIe siècle, Paris, 2000, p. 48). Other secrétaires are known with similar decoration, such as lot 34 by Pierre Macret, in the Houghton Sale.
Sir Philip Sassoon, Bt (1888-1939) was a British politician and a renowned art collector, and a member of the two most influential Jewish families of the 19th century, the Sassoons and Rothschilds. In his residences at Park Lane in London, Port Lympne Mansion, Kent and Trent Park, Hertfordshire, he created lavish settings with English and French art and entertained many celebrity friends. His sister Sybil married the future Marquess of Cholmondeley and part of Philip’s collection later entered the Houghton collections.
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