Inlaid overall with brass and ebony banding, the eared rectangular bleu turquin marble top above a panelled frieze drawer mounted with winged caryatides around the central escutcheon and cherubs holding the drapery handles, the hinged fall-front headed by a foliate mount and enclosing a fitted interior with two shelves above a deep drawer flanked to either side by two rows of three drawers, above a green leather-lined writing surface, the lower section with a pair of doors enclosing a plain interior with a shelf, flanked by entasised fluted columns with Ionic capitals, the panelled sides flanked by conforming columns, on turned toupie feet with engine-turned
sabots, with paper labels inscribed 138, RD=36 and 111

5734 in. (147 cm.) high, 38 in. (96.5 cm.) wide, 17 in. (43 cm.) deep
Guillaume Beneman, maître in 1785.
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Lot Essay

A secrétaire of very similar design was acquired with its en suite commode by Baron Meyer Amschel de Rothschild, for Mentmore Towers, Buckinghamshire. In the Mentmore sale of 1977 both were erroneously thought to have come from Compiègne through the collection of George Watson-Taylor (sold Christie's, 28 May 1825). Although the Watson-Taylor sale described a closely related secrétaire and commode as lots 26 and 27 from the Palace of Compiègne, that secrétaire was veneered in rosewood and the commode in mahogany and satinwood; the latter was subsequently sold in Paris in 1988 (Ader Picard Tajan, 17 March 1988, lot 84) and bore the label of the marchand Rieul Rocreux, who flourished in the rue Royale between 1816 and 1820. A related group of secrétaires and commodes attributed to Guillaume Beneman differ from the Wildenstein secrétaire in that they all display distinctive ormolu putti supporting the entablature. This group includes the secrétaire and commode supplied to the King of Spain by the
marchand Godon in the 1790s (F. Niqo Mas and P. Junquera de Vega, Palacio Real de Madrid, Madrid, 1985, pp. 76-77); another in the Jones Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum (F.J.B. Watson, Le Meuble Louis XVI, London, 1963); and a sécrétaire and commode stamped by Beneman supplied for the Palais Michail, in Saint Petersburg - although these are mounted with griffins to the angles.

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