A Magnificent William and Mary Scarlet, Gilt and Silver-Japanned Secretaire-on-Chest
Decorated overall with elaborate Chinoiserie scenes depicting figures and fantastical beasts in landscapes amongst scrolling foliage, with a frieze drawer above a fall-front door concealing an arrangement of pigeonholes, drawers, secret compartments, cupboards and an adjustable writing slide, above two short and two long drawers, on later decorated bun feet.
This rare cabinet is spectacular in the detail and ingenuity of its decoration and its brilliant red ground. It is a remarkable survival retaining virtually all of its original decoration. The rare vibrancy of the ‘Chinese red’ ground compares to the Queen Anne bachelor’s chest/writing table formerly owned by Sir Phillip Sassoon, Bt. at Trent Park, Hertfordshire and subsquently to Houghton Hall, Norfolk (sold Christie’s, London, ‘Works of Art from Houghton’, 8 December 1994, lot 114). This form of secretaire was made popular between 1685 and 1710 ; all other examples illustrated appear to be of marquetry or plain wood. The cabinet, when it was sold by Partridge Fine Arts in 1987, had come from the Agnelli family. The socialite Marella Agnelli, one of Capote’s ‘swan’s’, furnished her New York home in the early 1980s with the assistance of the Milan-based Renzo Mongiardino, who was the family’s decorator for 30 years. These spectacular interiors reveal an affection for rich reds and lacquer surfaces. The cabinet would have suited Marella Agnelli and Mongiardino’s rich and theatrical tastes perfectly.
43 x 20 x 69 in (110 x 51 x 175 cm)
- The Agnelli family, Milan, Italy.
- With Partridge Fine Arts London 1987.
- Private Collection New York