In the same private collection from the 1950's until very recent years.
Pierre Kjellberg, "Le Mobilier Français du XVIIIe Siècle", 1998, p. 649, illustrating another secrétaire à abattant by Nicolas Petit of almost identical overall form and identical gilt bronze mounted feet, which though having different inlays makes use of the contrast between the lighter rosewood against the darker amaranth. And on the same page another comparable secrétaire with very similar angle mounts. Anne Droguet, "Nicolas Petit, 1732-1791", 2001, p. 81, illustrating another similar secrétaire with canted corners, likewise stamped by Petit which is decorated with exotic scenes that include antique architecture after Boucher.
A very elegant and fine quality Louis XVI gilt bronze mounted amaranth, rosewood, sycamore and stained wood inlaid marquetry secrétaire à abattant by Nicolas Petit stamped N. PETIT of rectangular outline, the moulded rectangular and canted corner brêche d'Alep marble top above a panelled frieze drawer with central ring handle above the fallfront with a central crowned escutcheon, inlaid within a panelled frame a lively architectural landscape portraying figures at work, trees, ancient ruins and a bridge over a river leading to a walled town and similarly decorated on the two doors below, the fallfront opening to reveal a leather writing slide below four sets of drawers and six others, the lower panels opening to reveal two drawers and a safe, the canted corner angles inlaid with floral sprays and headed by swagged columnar mounts, on canted bracket feet with foliate rosette mounts
Paris, date circa 1775
Height 129.5 cm, width 79.5 cm, depth 37.5 cm.
In addition to the above one can also cite another secrétaire à abattant by Nicolas Petit (1732-91) which features inlays of rosewood and amaranth as well as satinwood, sold in the Partridge sale, Christie's New York, on 17th May 2006, lot 105. The present work, marked by its elegance and beautiful inlays, also recalls a secrétaire stamped by André-Louis Gilbert (1746-1809, maître 1774) and by the marchand-ébéniste Léonard Boudin (1735-1807, maître 1761), which features inlaid landscape scenes with architecture and antique ruins as found on other pieces by Gilbert; it is therefore likely that the latter supplied Petit and others with such marquetry panels (illustrated in Kjellberg, op. cit. pp. 358-9).
Nicolas Petit was one of the leading Parisian ébénistes of his day. The son of a menuisier, he was received as a maître-ébéniste in 1761; in 1783 he was elected adjoint aux syndics and the following year syndic of the guild. Petit began his career as an ébéniste and furniture seller, with a workshop in the rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine at the sign of the 'Nom de Jésus'. An inventory of 1765, made after the death of his wife, Marie-Magdeleine Dignoir listed eight workbenches - implying a thriving workshop. However only very few items of furniture were recorded, which along with a lack of any client list implies that at that time Petit supplied direct to the dealers or fellow ébénistes. In addition to bureaux, tables and secrétaires, Petit is also known for his magnificent longcase clock cases (for example one in the Musée des Arts et Métiers, Paris).
During his later career, Petit concentrated his activities as a marchand-ébéniste. The inventory made after his death included no less than 50 secrétaires à abattant and also listed a number of important clients, such as the duc d'Orléans, the duc de Bouillon as well as the Princesse de Hesse, the comte de Vergemont, the comtesse de Schacookoy, M. Randon de Lucernay, M. de Sartine and M. de Saint Julien. Today Petit's work can be admired at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, the Wallace Collection, London as well as Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire.