154 Kensington Church Street London W8 4BN
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$ 600,418

Pair of French 19th Century Ebony, Hard Stone and Ormolu Mounted Secretaires

Origin France
Period 19th Century
Materials Ormolu, Precious Stone, Marble, Ebony
W. 30 in; H. 48.5 in; D. 14.5 in;
W. 76.2 cm; H. 123.19 cm; D. 36.83 cm;
Condition Excellent. Wear consistent with age and use.
Creation Date 1823
Number of Pieces 2-3
Description A fine pair of secrétaires à Abattant
Attributed to Alexandre-Louis Bellangé

Constructed in ebony, and dressed with two-color gold ormolu mounts, made with exceptional refinement, Florentine Pietra Dura panels (with colors of blue, red, orange and green), pewter inlay work and Portor marble tops. Each cabinet rising from oblate bun feet below the incurved, pewter line-inlaid lower tiers; the supporting circular columns have ormolu capitols engraved with trellis patterns; the friezes house spring released lockable mahogany lined drawers, each of which are faced with pairs of hardstone plaques, and extensive ormolu foliates. One cabinet has flanking ormolu female caryatids atop fluted columns, the other with torsade columns atop a fluted column; the fall-fronts have centrally sited hardstone plaques depicting bowls of fruit within an ormolu framework, and with ormolu ribband-tied foliates to the sides; the lockable fall-fronts open to Revel writing surfaces and fitted interior, with the four small drawers set about the central lockable drawer; the sides have further pewter line inlays enclosing centrally sited ormolu foliates; the Portor marble platforms sit upon the upper friezes of stiff- leaf and Vitruvian scrolls. One cabinet bearing an old circular paper label ‘110/1825/No 1176’.

French, dated 1823


Most likely acquired by Richard Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Chandos (1776 - 1839), and thence by descent to his son, Richard Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos (1797 - 1861), at Stowe House, Buckinghamshire.

They were then sold at the ‘Contents of Stowe House’, Christie, Manson & Woods, Third day’s sale, 17 August 1848, lots 367 and 368 to E.L. Betts, Esq. (for £89.5 and £80.17 respectively).

E.L. Betts, Esq. at the Mansion, Petersham Lodge, Petersham, until sold to Mr. Phillips on 25 January 1865 and Two following Days, lot 111 to ‘Phillips’ for £32.11.

Richard Plantagenet Campbell Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville (1823 - 1889) located at Stowe House or possibly later at Chandos House, London, and thence by descent.

Richard, 1st Duke Of Buckingham & Chandos

The demise of the family fortune, culminating in the sale of Stowe’s contents had no doubt commenced with the 2nd Duke’s father, also Richard (d. 1839), a prolific collector. The 1st Duke was among the ‘early and considerable purchasers’ at the Orléans sale of Italian and French paintings in 1798, and was also a buyer at the 1823 Beckford/Fonthill sale. In 1827, the 1st Duke was sent to the continent to curb his extravagant spending but managed in three years of exile to accumulate yet more pictures and artefacts in Italy. It is feasible he acquired these secrétaires in Paris on his return journey through the European capitals. Alternatively the secrétaires may have been acquired by the 2nd Duke, as he too developed a partiality for this style of furniture; the 1848 Stowe catalogue reveals that there was a significant amount of Florentine pietre dure furniture in the mansion by this date.

Alexandre-louis Bellangé (1799 -1863)

Denise LeDoux-Lebard, in ‘Le Mobilier Français du19eme Siècle’ Published 2008, by Editions de L'Amateur, records the Bellangé Family of Ébènistes as holding an “elevated place in the history of French 19th c furniture makers’’; Pierre-Antoine (1758-1827) and his brother Louis-François (1759-1827) are both represented in French State Collections, both having worked for the Emperor; (Compiegne and Versailles) - pieces by Alexandre-Louis are to be found in the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Wallace Collection, inter alia.

Sylvain Cordier's history and exegisis of the Bellangé family ‘Bellange, ebenistes a history of 19th century taste’ edition Mare et Martin 2012, shows a secretaire with similar foliate mounts on pp 317.

Additional information

One of the secrétaires is signed in pencil on the inside back, noting a ébéniste at an address in Paris, possibly rue du Faubourg, and the date of 1823, the rest is illegible. The second secrétaire is also signed and dated 1823.

A photograph taken of the Blue Drawing Room at Stowe House, circa 1870, then occupied by Richard, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, illustrates one of the secrétaire on the left back wall.
Styles / Movements Other
Dealer Reference Number 8664
Incollect Reference Number 253461
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