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Fall Front Secretary

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Drop front secretary, central panel flanked by veneered columns, gilt bronze capitals. Interior: six open sections, two groups of three small drawers. Locking drawer within frieze of gilt bronze sunflowers


Possibly part of furnishings made for Marie-Antoinette's Trellis Bedchamber at the Petit Trianon, near Paris [see note 1]. 1794-1796, probably acquired in Paris by James Swan, Boston, MA [see note 2]; after 1796, with his wife, Hepzibah Clark Swan (d. 1825), Dorchester, MA; 1825, after her death, by inheritance to one of her three daughters [see note 3], and eventually inherited by a descendant, Mrs. Marianne S. Rogers, Savanah, GA (d. 1979); 1979, bequest of Mrs. Marianne S. Rogers. (Accession date: October 17, 1979) NOTES: [1] Several hypotheses concerning the early provenance of this fall front secretary, along with a chest of drawers (MFA 60.242) are provided by Jeffrey Munger in "Royal French Furniture in 18th Century Boston," p. 121-124. [2] James Swan was a merchant established in Paris, and was appointed an official agent for the purchase of supplies in the United States in 1794 by the French Government. His partner was Johann-Caspar Schweizer, a Swiss. According to Howard Rice, the French Government placed at his disposal luxury goods to be exchanged in America for food supplies and war materials. The Swan and Schweizer agency shipped these articles to the United States between 1794-1795, where much of it was sold. However, this piece was among those that Swan kept for his personal use. See H. Rice "James Swan, Agent of the French Republic 1794-1796" The New England Quarterly, Vol. X, No. 3, Sept. 1937, p. 464-486. [3] The three daughters of James and Hepzibah Swan were Mrs. John T. Sargent, Mrs. William Sullivan, and Mrs. John C. Howard, all of Boston, MA.

Credit Line

Bequest of Marianne S. Rodgers

Secrétaire à abattant

French (Paris), about 1788

Object Place

Paris, France


140.3 x 84.4 cm (55 1/4 x 33 1/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oak and mahogany, gilt-bronze, brass, white marble