Rare Louis XV slant top desk attributed to BVRB (Bernard van Risenburgh) decorated with Chinese Coromandel lacquer inset into French aubergine lacquer. The abbatant and the shaped sides are decorated with panels of Coromandel lacquer depicting small birds flying among branches and flowering trees on a café au lait ground. The area surrounding the abbatant is framed with an incised white diaper pattern containing rosettes from the border of a Coromandel screen. The other surfaces are decorated with compositions of Coromandel lacquer motifs inset into aubergine European lacquer, probably some of the “hundred antiquities” often found at the borders of Coromandel screens. An incised green line frames each lacquer composition; a thicker orange line outlines each surface of the desk.
Two wood brackets pull out to support the abattant’s velvet covered amaranth framed writing surface. The horizontal panel beneath the drawers is veneered with amaranth borders and strapwork on a bois satiné ground with abstract rococo motifs in bois de bout kingwood. The interior contains a nest of six exquisitely formed small drawers. The convex upper drawers are veneered with small kingwood motifs flanking the amaranth pulls on slanted bois satiné grounds; the concave lower drawers are similarly veneered with amaranth motifs on horizontally laid grounds of bois satiné. The exterior drawer linings have traces of the original purple lacquer.
The veneered horizontal panel beneath the drawers is released by depressing the middle screw on the rear portion of the abbatant’s hinges. The panel slides back to reveal a veneered secret compartment with spaces probably for three leather covered storage boxes. [The upper proper right drawer previously with a spring-loaded internal locking device. The café au lait ground is probably of European origin. Small repairs and chips.]
Coromandel lacquer is very rare on BVRB pieces. Interestingly, the Louis XV Coromandel lacquer commode in the Metropolitan Museum of Art also has a brown ground color. Although lacquer is rarely found on BVRB’s slant-top desks, there are several slant-top desks with similar shapes, interior drawer configurations and marquetry. These include a slightly larger slant-top desk at Versailles made for the Dauphine (the drawer configuration and the interior’s marquetry decoration are nearly identical), a blue European lacquer desk formerly at Steinitz and a desk from in the Sidney Lamon Collection (Christie’s London 11/29/1972. Lot 99.)
The desk will be illustrated in the forthcoming BVRB catalogue raisonné by M. Yannick Bapt.