Designer / Maker
The design attributed to Bruce James Talbert (1838-81)
Manufactured by Holland & Sons (1843-1942)
Oak, with harewood and satinwood inlay; original leather writing surface and brass hardware
160.6 x 77.5 x 47 cm
English (London), circa 1870
‘Holland & Sons’
[ … ]; Fine Art Society, 1988; private collection, London
While Talbert’s involvement with Holland & Sons is well established, with the exception of furniture shown by the firm at the Paris Exposition Universelle, 1867 (such as the Pericles Cabinet, Metropolitan Museum of Art), what else he designed for the firm is less well documented. Such information as has been gleaned about Talbert’s connection with Holland & Sons is given in Sally MacDonald, ‘Gothic Forms Applied to Furniture: The Early Work of Bruce James Talbert, Furniture History XXIII (1987), pp. 39–66.
Elements of Talbert’s earlier and more muscular gothic style evident on the present secretaire cabinet can be observed in plates in his Gothic Forms Applied to Furniture Metal Work and Decoration for Domestic Purposes, London, 1868. The slanted roof relates closely to one of the two cabinets in plate 7 and grooved planks to the front and sides can be compared to the other cabinet. Similarities can also be found on a ‘golden oak’ chest of drawers by Holland & Sons in a private collection; see MacDonald, op. cit., fig. 7. A group of large and smaller oak and inlaid buffets are amongst the best-known Talbert-designed creations for Holland & Sons; see H. Blairman & Sons, Furniture and Works of Art (1999), no. 12 for one now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
A cabinet of related form was offered at Sotheby’s Belgravia, 11 November 1976, lot 347.