Pair of Napoleon III Secrétaires Abbatants

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Object Description

An Important Pair of Napoleon III Gilt-Bronze Mounted, Marquetry Inlaid Secrétaires Abbatants, by Henry Dasson, After the Model by Jean-Francois Dubut.

Each secrétaire is of violin shape with a rectangular ‘rouge Griotte’ marble top above a spreading pediment and shaped sides, the angles mounted with fine gilt-bronze acanthus-cast clasps, the upper section with a fall front inlaid with floral end grain marquetry, opening to a fitted interior with a leather writing slide, an open compartment and five drawers; the lower section with a similarly embellished cupboard door opening to an interior fitted with a single shelf; raised on fronded acanthus cast scrolled feet.

This remarkable pair of Louis XV style secrétaires are based on the celebrated model by Jean-François Dubut (maître in 1760), illustrated in P. Kjellberg, “Le Meubles français du XVIIIe siècle”, Paris, Éditions de l’Amateur, 2008, p.6 and 327.

Embodying the flowing natural curves characteristic of the Louis XV style they became a highly appreciated model in the 19th century, with important versions made by leading ébénistes of the day including Dasson, Monbro, Lexcellent and Sormani.

A comparative pair of 19th century examples, attributed to Sormani are in the Frick Collection, New York (1915.5.36); an example supplied in 1856 by Monbro Fils Ainé in the Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle (FW.95); a pair stamped by Edward Holmes Baldock in the Jones Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum (1012A-1882). A further example, also by Henry Dasson, is illustrated in C.Mestdagh, “L’Ameublement d’art Français 1850-1900”, Les Editions de l’Amateur, Paris, 2010, p. 58, fig. 54.

French, Circa 1880.

Object History

Henry Dasson

Henry Dasson (1825-1896) was one of the finest makers of gilt-bronze mounted furniture in the nineteenth century. Unlike other cabinetmakers of this time Dasson started his career as a bronze sculptor, and for this reason one of the characteristics of his work is the great quality of his bronze and more precisely of the chiselling. With a workshop established in Paris at 106 rue Vieille-du-Temple, he specialised predominantly in the production of Louis XIV, XV and XVI style furniture using the very finest gilt-bronze mounts.

Object Literature

C.Mestdagh, “L’Ameublement d’art Français 1850-1900”, Les Editions de l’Amateur, Paris, 2010, p. 58, fig. 54.
P. Kjellberg, “Le Meubles français du XVIIIe siècle”, Paris, Éditions de l’Amateur, 2008, p.6 and 327.
Furniture in The Frick Collection: Italian and French Renaissance, French 18th and 19th Centuries (Pt. I). Volume V. New York: The Frick Collection, 1992.

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