Secretaire 004


Fine and rare Louis XVI secrétaire à abattant stamped LACROIX (For Roger Vandercruse-Lacroix or RVLC) with mahogany internal drawers. The “D”-form piece has three open shelves veneered with stripes of green-stained wood on each side. There is a frieze drawer above the abattant as well as a drawer below.  The fall-front opens to reveal a leather covered writing surface and a nest of six drawers veneered with stripes of green-stained wood with finely figured mahogany linings. The original writing implements are found in the lowest drawer on the right 


The piece is veneered with an overall pattern of single cornflowers in a double banded trellis on a light-colored ground.  The abattant is centered with a “Catherine’s wheel” surrounded by cornflowers in trellis work and with sprays of cornflowers in the spandrels.  The abattant marquetry panels are framed with borders consisting of inlaid blocks of black and white wood between filets of dark wood.  The vertical panels between the shelves and the abattant are framed with black and white blocks. The piece is mounted with ormolu moldings, round and oblong rosettes, unusual vase mounts on pedestals on the front stiles, and an extensive frieze of rinçeaux in the frieze and with a drop handle on the upper drawer.


The piece is marked with an untraced, probably eighteenth century, inventory mark:   294S


Ex Collection: Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Hamilton Rice (The Hamilton Rices, one of the richest couples in the US in the early 20th century, maintained lavish homes in New York City and Newport Rhode island­­­—both designed by the noted American architect, Horace Trumbauer.)


Literature: Michael C. Kathrens: American Splendor: The Residential Architecture of Horace Trumbauer; Acanthus Press, New York, 2002.

Illustrated page 197 (The pair is shown in The Grand Salon at Miramar, Newport, Rhode Island.)

Illustrated page 276 (One is shown in the Second Floor Hall at 901 Fifth Avenue, New York City.)



Nearly identical secrétaires, but with Sèvres porcelain plaques on the abbatants, are in the Metropolitan Museum and Waddesdon Manor; a third with a probably added small Sèvres plaque is in the Hillwood Museum Collection. Another, all marquetry, and in a French private collection, is illustrated in Le Meuble Léger en France: Janneau; Hartmann, Paris, 1952. Plates 194 and 195. Simon Poirier, the marchand mercier, delivered a seemingly identical secrétaire to the Count d’Artois on March 3, 1777. (As quoted by de Bellaigue in the Waddesdon furniture catalogue; Vol. I, p. 340: “Un Secretaire portant Encoignure de chaque côté, plaque fond blanc a Barbeaux et a Mosaïque bleu, Le marbre blanc et Le tout richement orné et garni de Bronze dorés d’or Moulu” [Archives Nationales, R1 311]) [“A Secrétaire with Encoignure on each side, veneered on a white ground with cornflowers and blue mosaic, The marble white and The whole richly decorated with Bronzes gilded with ormoulu”]


There is a dealer label (almost certainly Duveen’s) in the frieze drawer of the secrétaire with oak internal drawers:


                  A PAIR OF LOUIS XVI UPRIGHT

                      SECRETAIRES BY “LACROIX”


 and the inventory number 25823 on a smaller piece of paper.

Height (ins.): 50¾      Length/Width (ins.): 14½      Depth (ins.): 34¾
Origin: France, circa 1775     Period: Louis XVI