PROPERTY OF A DISTINGUISHED EUROPEAN COLLECTION
Although unstamped, this secrétaire en pente is attributed to Jacques Dubois on the basis of a virtually identical example stamped (thrice) by Dubois, from the Gontaut-Biron collection, illustrated, T. Wolvesperges, Le Meuble Français en Laque au XVIIIe Siècle, Paris, 1999, p. 287, pl. 155. The inventory taken after Dubois' death in 1763 reveals a large workshop with no fewer than 12 workbenches and approximately 125 pieces of furniture in production including secrétaires en pente.
This is a model which Dubois seems to have specialized in, particularly examples with oriental lacquer veneers. Of the more than twenty secrétaires en pente known to be by Dubois, of which the majority are in Chinese lacquer, we only know of three others of this small size: these include the example cited above, T. Wolvesperges, op. cit., pl. 155, one from the Walters, Dutasta and Gaby Salomon collections (sold, Sotheby's, London, April 17, 1964, lot 113), and the desk from the Stuart collection at Highcliffe, now at Waddesdon Manor, reproduced, Geoffrey de Bellaigue, The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddeson Manor, Fribourg, 1974, Vol. I, pp. 282-285. There is also a larger version (secrétaire en dos d'âne) such as the one reproduced by Wolvesperges, op. cit. pp. 288-289 which is also fitted with a scarlet and gilt lacquer interior.The attribution to Dubois can also be corroborated by comparison of the ormolu mounts on this secrétaire with mounts on the examples cited above. There are elements which are identical and it is known that Dubois kept a large supply of unchased bronze mounts for use on his furniture which he then supplied to the chaser and the gilder; in this fashion he was able to guard the exclusivity of his mounts so that they could not be copied by his contemporaries.
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