Chinoiserie scenes

Decorated overall with elaborate Chinoiserie scenes depicting figures and fantastical beasts in landscapes amongst scrolling foliage, with a frieze drawer above a fall-front door concealing an arrangement of pigeonholes, drawers, secret compartments, cupboards and an adjustable writing slide, above two short and two long drawers, on later decorated bun feet

Rare Vibrancy

This rare cabinet is spectacular in the detail and ingenuity of its decoration and its brilliant red ground. It is a remarkable survival retaining virtually all of its original decoration. The rare vibrancy of the 'Chinese red' ground compares to the Queen Anne bachelor's chest/writing table formerly owned by Sir Phillip Sassoon, Bt. at Trent Park, Hertfordshire and subsequently Houghton Hall, Norfolk (sold Christie's, London, 'Works of Art from Houghton', 8 December 1994, lot 114).
 This form of secretaire was made popular between 1685 and 1710; all other examples illustrated appear to be of marquetry or plain wood. The cabinet, when it was sold by Partridge Fine Arts in 1987, had come from the Agnelli family. The socialite Marella Agnelli, one of Capote's 'swans', furnished her New York home in the early 1980s with the assistance of the Milan-based Renzo Mongiardino, who was the family's decorator for 30 years. These spectacular interiors reveal an affection for rich reds and lacquer surfaces. The cabinet would have suited Marella Agnelli and Mongiardino's rich and theatrical tastes perfectly.


The Agnelli family, Milan, Italy.

With Partridge Fine Arts London 1987.

Private Collection New York.


Partridge, Summer Exhibition Catalogue, 1987, item 10, pp. 34-35.

No other Japanned secretaires of this shape are known, but the most similar is a walnut and marquetry secretaire, circa 1690, which is illustrated and discussed in The History of English Furniture. The Age of Walnut, 1905, Percy Macquoid, pp.55 and 58-59, figs. 53 & 54. At this time it was in the collection of the Duke of Beaufort. For other examples see The Dictionary of English Furniture, 1954 ( rev. edn. ), Vol.1, p.136, figs. 27-29 but again none are of lacquer.


Dimensions CM Inches
Width: 110 43
Depth: 51 20
Height: 175 69