Antique French Sèvres porcelain and ormolu mounted secretaire


Previously owned by the Rothschild family and with a very interesting history, this secretaire combines 18th century Sèvres porcelain with 19th century woodwork.


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This superb French secretaire is crafted from a selection of very fine materials including 18th century Sèvres porcelain, ormolu, and mahogany. The furniture piece comes with a very interesting provenance.

The galleried top is mounted with a cream marble, its colouration superbly standing out against the ormolu detailing in the form of, for example, a foliate scrolling frieze. Below is a fall front adorned with a central rectangular panel filled with beautiful pastel-coloured Sèvres porcelain panels. These are expertly painted with floral compositions all framed by a gilt and pastel green border. Two fluted and tapering columns are placed on either side of the lockable fall front which opens to reveal a fitted interior.

Inside are three shelves of various sizes. Flanking a central compartment are four drawers with round metal handles. The reverse of the fall front is fitted with a leather-lined writing panel which is debossed and gilded around the edges.

Below the writing surface are twin lockable doors of a similar design to the fall-front panel above. An oval porcelain panel centres each door, each one featuring a hand-painted illustration of a flower-filled vase on a pedestal. The triangular panels filling the edges are painted with more dainty flowers. All are framed with ormolu. Inside the cabinet is one shelf and a further lockable storage compartment.

The piece stands on four toupie feet ending with ormolu sabots. On the reverse is painted the Rothschild inventory number (R282).

Until the Second World War, the piece was in the collection of the Rothschild family, when it was confiscated by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Taskforce (ERR), a Nazi Party organisation tasked with the appropriation of cultural goods. In 1941 the secretaire was transferred to the Jeu de Paume in Paris. On 20 June 1945, it was recovered by the Monuments Fine Arts and Archives Section from Alt Aussee, Austria, and transferred to the Munich Central Collecting Point. A year later, on 19 September 1946, it was repatriated to France and later acquired privately from the Rothschild family.

The combination of 18th and 19th centuries craftsmanship, high quality finish as well as very interesting provenance make this antique secretaire a magnificent addition to one’s collection.


- Acquired by Baron Alphonse de Rothschild (1827-1905).
- Thence by descent to his son Baron Edouard de Rothschild (1868-1949).
- Confiscated from the above by Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) and transferred to the Jeu de Paume after the Nazi occupation in 1941 (R 282).
- Recovered by the Monuments Fine Arts and Archives Section from Alt Aussee, Austria and transferred to the Munich Central Collecting Point, 20 June 1945 (MCCP no. 610).
- Repatriated to France, 19 September 1946.
- Acquired privately from the Succession de Baronne Edouard (Germaine Alice Halphen) de Rothschild (1884-1975) by the father of the previous owners.


Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
c. 1840
Early 19th Century
Louis XVI
Marble, Ormolu (Gilt Bronze), Porcelain, Wood


127 cm / 50 inches
76 cm / 29.9 inches
37 cm / 14.6 inches


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