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Secrétaire à Abattant (Primary Title) Fall-Front Secretary (Translation)
This graceful writing desk is one of a handful produced by a yet-to-be-identified New York cabinetmaker. Its classical form, elegant proportions, and fine material details signal the influence of immigrant European cabinetmakers on high-style production in New York and other urban areas. Improved transportation, expanding technologies, and growing political tensions expedited the transfer of talented craftsmen to America and increased the complexity and variety of local production. Following the War of 1812, James Monroe ordered a suite of French furniture to restore the ravaged White House. The collection included a similar fall-front desk on which Monroe drafted the Monroe Doctrine.
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund, by exchange
O’Leary, Elizabeth L., Sylvia Yount, Susan Jensen Rawles, and David Park Curry. American Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Charlottesville: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts with the University of Virginia Press, 2010. (No. 25, p. 73-76).
Peter M. Kenny, Michael Brown, Duncan Phyfe: America’s Legendary Cabinetmaker (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011) color fig. 1, p. 232.
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC
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