J.H.RIESENER: Fine Louis XVI Plum-Pudding Mahogany Sécrètaire à Abattant
the mottled grey marble top with extended corners over the panelled lower section with a frieze drawer and fall-front enclosing a fitted interior, with two cupboard doors below containing a lockable lower section and raised on bracket feet; all in the finest quality plum-pudding mahogany. Stamped to the back upright J*H*RIESENER.
Retaining the original locks with keys.
Jean-Henri Riesener (1734-1806), like many of Paris’s best-known furniture-makers at this time, was of German origin, born in Gladbeck, Westphalia. In 1754 he moved to Paris and was apprenticed to the greatest maker of the age, Jean François Oeben, and, on Oeben’s death, Jean-Henri married his widow.
He was received into his guild as a maître ébèniste in 1766, and was soon supplying furniture for the crown. His earlier pieces are hugely expensive items incorporating panels of beautiful pictorial marquetry and with fine gilt-bronze mounts. After the near bankruptcy of the court in 1784, these rather overblown confections were no longer affordable and plainer pieces, like the offered sécrètaire in acajou moucheté , became fashionable, usually veneered in finely figured mahogany and with chaster gilt-bronze mounts.
After the Revolution his career continued, and he was employed to remove the royal insignia and attributes from many of his earlier elaborate pieces of furniture.