Secretaire by Jean-Henri Riesener - ca. 1780 and 1790 - 143.2 × 115.6 × 43.8 cm The Frick Collection Secretaire by Jean-Henri Riesener - ca. 1780 and 1790 - 143.2 × 115.6 × 43.8 cm The Frick Collection


Oak veneered with various woods including ash, bloodwood, and amaranth; gilt bronze, leather, marble • 143.2 × 115.6 × 43.8 cm
  • Jean-Henri Riesener - 4 July 1734 - 6 January 1806 Jean-Henri Riesener ca. 1780 and 1790

Jean-Henri Riesener, one of the eighteenth century’s finest French cabinetmakers, was appointed ébeniste du roi (cabinetmaker to the king) in 1774, the year Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette ascended to the throne. During the next ten years, Riesener made numerous pieces of furniture for the royal family, including the queen, who seems to have particularly appreciated the cabinetmaker’s imaginative designs and beautifully crafted furniture. Riesener lost his title in 1784 due to administrative changes in the Garde-Meuble Royal, the organization responsible for furnishing the royal residences, but continued to work for Marie-Antoinette. In the early 1780s, he delivered this secretaire and matching commode for one of the many residences she was refurnishing, possibly the Château de Saint-Cloud, west of Paris. Several years later, Riesener reworked these two pieces for her new apartment at the Tuileries, where the royal family was forced to reside after the revolution began in 1789. This required reducing their scale to better suit the humbled queen’s new abode. Riesener’s creative solution was to shorten each piece, change the feet, apply simpler mounts, and add a new marquetry panel on the center of each piece. He was no doubt pleased with the elegant results as he took the unusual step of signing and dating the new marquetry panels.

We rarely feature pieces of furniture but this one is so beautiful, you need to admit it! We present it today thanks to The Frick Collection.

P.S. Here are all the beautiful portraits of Marie Antoinette to feast your eyes <3 And here you can get to know more about the most intriguing kind of closets - the cabinets of curiosities!