Secrets of a Secrétaire

Curiosities Decorative Arts Furniture

Every once in a while, a client with exceptional taste comes along and allows us to create something out of the ordinary. It is not only a pleasure to embark on that journey but also an educative experience. And the result is always more than you see. It is not very hard to fall in love with a beautiful thing. It is quite natural. But to look beyond the beauty and find meaning is the visceral experience we hope to convey with our pieces. 

This beautiful secrétaire is inspired by Northern Italian rococo, which was of course concentrated in Venice. The upper case features an armoire while the desk itself is in the form of a hinged writing surface half by a drawer. The body features rococo foliage carved at considerable depth with a rare flair that is unmistakably Parrot & Lily. 

The finish is an antiqued ivory. With time, this will turn into a faded yellow, just like the timeless patina of the Venetian rococo antiques that it is inspired by. The same piece in an even ivory would probably look much flatter. A sense of time is communicated by the depth of the patina.

At the same time, it would not have been a good idea to start with yellow paint. That too would look artificial and one-dimensional. The beauty is in the change, a living piece that grows old with time and shows the signs. It is wonderful to thing that we witness the piece in its current form, future generations would witness it in another and in fact the piece will never come to single final form. It would continue transforming long after its patrons and makers are gone.
The interior shelving of the upper case is done in a typically 'oriental' style inspired by pagodas. These pigeonhole segments would have been used to store papers, stationery, seals, wax, ink pots and such. They are particular well-suited for displaying smaller figurines, and we are always partial to porcelain or some lovely hardbound miniature books.
You may have noticed that while the upper case has our custom solid brass knobs, the drawer and writing panel do not have any handles. They are opened by turning and pulling a decorative brass key. This is commonly seen in French country armoires. It is rare to find this today because of course this method puts some pressure on the wood and joints of the piece.

But a knob or handle would simply not look right on this piece. These pieces were designed without the provision of a handle, and to add one should entail a complete reworking of the design to maintain its balance. Each element of a piece should serve a purpose and be a result of thoughtfulness. When at a loss of thought, decorating a Christmas tree instead is always a good idea.
Take a leap of faith, bring home not only something beautiful but something bespoke and exceptional. At Parrot & Lily, we can promise you historical accuracy, academic acumen and technical expertise. All we are missing is your personal taste. 

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