Lady’s Secretaire

Chippendale, Thomas

A lacquer secretaire made by Thomas Chippendale for the State Bedroom at Harewood House.

Fall front secretaire (‘Lady’s Secretary’) Pine etc, veneered with Chinese lacquer and japanned. Assembled by Thomas Chippendale (1718 – 1779) for the State Bedroom at Harewood House, 1773.

This exquisite piece of furniture re-interprets the French form in the English neo-Classical style. The imported Chinese lacquer panels were supplied by Edwin Lascelles of Harewood House to be made up into furniture by Chippendale who made up matching additional parts for the top and interior. He described it as a Lady’s Secretary and charged £26 for the work. It stood against the green silk damask of the State Bedroom and was en suite with other lacquer pieces: a pier commode and two cabinets on stands. An identically configured secretaire in satinwood and marquetry was supplied to the State Dressing Room next door.

Chippendale’s commission for Harewood which lasted over 30 years was worth approximately £10,000 was probably the most lavish furnishing scheme anywhere in 18th century England. A second almost identical secretaire, possibly veneered with the residue of Lascelles’ Chinese lacquer, was supplied to Robert Child of Osterley Park, Middlesex. Bought after a temporary Export Licence Deferral by a large consortium of benefactors including the Leeds Art Fund in memory of Christopher Gilbert, Keeper, Temple Newsam 1961 – 83 and Director of Leeds Art Galleries 1983 – 95 (1999.0018).


Thomas Chippendale

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