The front of this desk, known as a secrétaire, drops down to reveal an interior compartment divided into drawers, while the fall front itself becomes a writing surface. The entire body of interior fittings, made of solid mahogany, can be pulled out from the front, revealing secret lidded compartments below. Such shallow pieces of furniture that open or extend into larger objects were invented for the smaller, more intimate rooms of the later half of the 1700s.

Although researchers cannot find the Getty Museum's secrétaire listed in the royal inventories, it is of the same caliber as other pieces made for Marie-Antoinette and the French court. The mounts are finely chased in their smallest details, and the construction of the piece is of high quality.


  • Title: Secrétaire (3/4 left)
  • Creator: Jean-Henri Riesener
  • Date Created: about 1785
  • Location Created: Paris, France
  • Physical Dimensions: 154.9 × 113 × 46.7 cm (61 × 44 1/2 × 18 3/8 in.)
  • Type: Furniture
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Oak veneered with panels of Japanese lacquer and ebony; interior fittings of mahogany; gilt bronze mounts; black marble top
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 71.DA.104
  • Culture: French
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Creator Display Name: Attributed to Jean-Henri Riesener (French, 1734 - 1806, master 1768, fournisseur du garde-meuble royal 1774 - 1784)
  • Classification: Decorative Art (Art Genre)

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