This elegant jewel coffer is mounted with thirteen plaques of soft-paste Sèvres porcelain, custom-shaped to fit the form and decorated with turquoise blue borders and sprigs of vibrant pink roses. Sèvres-mounted furniture came into fashion around 1760, at first as small, portable tables and later in more complex forms, including jewel coffers, secretaries, and commodes.
This is one of eight nearly identical jewel coffers made by cabinetmaker Martin Carlin during the 1760s and early 1770s. The innovative Parisian merchants and entrepreneurs Poirier and Daguerre in turn sold them to an elite clientele, including Madame du Barry and Queen Marie-Antoinette. This coffer belonged to Maria Feodorovna, wife of the future Czar Paul I; by 1795 it was in her apartments at Pavlovsk Palace, outside of Saint Petersburg.
Artist Martin Carlin, French, 1730-1785
  • Jewel Coffer
Date ca. 1774
Medium oak carcass, veneered with tulipwood, holly, ebony, and amaranth, plaques of soft-paste porcelain, gilt-bronze mounts
Dimensions Overall: 37 3/8 × 20 5/8 × 13 5/8 in. (94.9 × 52.4 × 34.6 cm)
Credit Line Bequest of Mrs. Horace E. Dodge in memory of her husband
Accession Number 71.196
Department European Sculpture and Dec Arts
On View Fashionable Living: Kanzler Room S330, Level 3 (see map)
Inscriptions Inscribed in black paint, underside of drawer-case: MN:2583/UN. 6392
Inscribed in white paint, underside of drawer-case: 1097
Affixed to the upper surface of the removable tray in the drawer-case is a tan paper label inscribed in ink: 29614 (a Duveen Bros. inventory number) and a typed label reading: A jewel cabinet or marriage casket decorated with Sèvres porcelain panels and ormolu by Martin Carlin French Ebeniste. Period of Louis XV-XVI from the Grand Palace of Pavlovsk, Russia.
Each removable tray within the coffer bears a label on its back marked in ink with an indecipherable description in Russian of what it was meant to contain and a label on its front marked with numbers from one to eight.
Inscribed in blue on the edge of the oval Sèvres porcelain plaque at center of the lid: h.
Inscribed in blue on the edges of ten Sèvres porcelain plaques: B.
Inscribed in blue on the edge of one Sèvres porcelain plaque: R.
Printed paper stickers prepared at the Sèvres manufactory and inscribed in black ink with the prices of the variously shaped panels remain attached to the undersides of several of the plaques. These read as follows: on the central lappet at the front of the coffer and on the two plaques flanking the lappet: 72" (livres); on the narrow strip at the front of the lid: I..."; on the two plaques of the drawer front: 30"; on one side of the plaques of the coffer: 66'; on the plaques at the left and right sides of the stand: 36"; on the two plaques flanking the central oval of the lid: 54".
Friederike Sophie Dorothea, Duchess of Württemberg [1736-1798];
by 1795, Maria Feodorovna, Empress of Russia [1759-1828] (Palace of Pavlovsk, near Saint Petersburg, Russia);
Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich [1798-1849] (Palace of Pavlovsk, near Saint Petersburg, Russia);
Grand Duke Constantin Nikolaievich [1827-1892] (Palace of Pavlovsk, near Saint Petersburg, Russia);
Grand Duchess Alexandra Iossifovna [1830-1911] (Palace of Pavlovsk, near Saint Petersburg, Russia);
Grand Duke Constantin Constantinovich [1858-1915] (Palace of Pavlovsk, near Saint Petersburg, Russia);
government of the Soviet Union (USSR);
(Duveen Brothers, dealer, New York, New York, USA);
1932, acquired by Anna Thomson Dodge [Mrs. Horace E Dodge] (Grosse Pointe, Michigan, USA);
1971-present, bequest to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Duchesse de Mazarin Collection. Sales cat., Lebrun, Paris, Dec. 10-15, 1781, lot 259.

Benois, A. Les Tresors d’art en Russie, vol. 3. St. Petersburg, 1901-1907, p. 373.

Benois, A. Les Tresors d’art en Russie, vol. 7. St. Petersburg, 1901-1907, p. 175, pl. 33.

Roche, D. Le Mobilier Francais en Russie, vol. 2. Paris, 1913, pl. 33.

Schmitz, H. Das Mobelwerk Von Altertum Bis Zur Des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts. Berlin, 1926, pl. 235.

A Catalogue of Works of Art in the Collection of Anna Thomson Dodge. Detroit, 1933, unpaginated.

A Catalogue of Works of Art of the Eighteenth Century in the Collection of Anna Thomson Dodge, vol. 1. Detroit, 1939, unpaginated.

Verlet, Pierre. Les Meubles Francais du XVIII siècle. Paris, 1956, fig. 119, pp. 158-159, 266.

Wildenstein. "Simon-Philippe Poirier, fournisseur de Madame du Barry.” Gazette des Beaux-Arts 40 (Sept. 1962): 365-77.

Dauterman, Carl C., James Parker and Edith Appleton Standen. Decorative Art from the Samuel H. Kress Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. London, 1964, pp. 126-34, nos. 20, 21.

Watson, F. J. B. "The Paris Collections of Madame B., I: The Furniture.” The Connoisseur 155 (February 1964): 2-11, esp. pp. 3-5, pl. II.

Watson, F. J. B. The Wrightsman Collection, vol. 1. Greenwich, CT, 1966, pp. 140-45.

Verlet, Pierre. The Eighteenth Century in France: Society, Decoration, Furniture. Rutland, VT, 1967, p. 276, no. 146.

Winokur, Ronald L. "The Mr. and Mrs. Horace E. Dodge Memorial Collection." Bulletin of the DIA 50, no. 3 (1971): 43-51, 44 (ill.).

"La chronique des arts.” Gazette des Beaux-Arts 79 (January 1972): 92, fig. 320.

Sales cat., Christie’s, New York, November 19, 1977, lot 123.

“Family Art Game,” DIA Advertising Supplement, Detroit Free Press, April 27, 1980, 12 (ill.).

Darr, A. European Decorative Arts from Royal Collections. Exh. cat., University Liggett School. Grosse Pointe, MI, 1981, unnumbered, p. 19, fig. 003 (ill.).

Verlet, Pierre, LES MEUBLES FRANÇAIS DU XVIIIe SIE`CLE, Paris 1982, fig. 119

“Family Art Game,” DIA Advertising Supplement, Detroit News, April 10, 1983, 25 (ill.).

“Family Art Game,” DIA Advertising Supplement, Detroit News, April 14, 1985, 7 (ill.).

100 Masterworks from the Detroit Institute of Arts. New York, 1985, pp. 150, 151 (ill.).
Pradère, Alexandre. French Furniture Makers: The Art of the Ebeniste from Louis XIV to the Revolution. Malibu, 1989, p. 357, figs. 422-23, 360, 419, fig. 516.

Myers, Mary L. French Architectural and Ornamental Drawings of the Eighteenth Century. New York, 1991, pp. 195-96, no. 116.

Collection Roberto Polo. Sales cat., Ader Picard Tajan, Paris, November 7, 1991, lot 153.

Verlet, Pierre. French Furniture of the Eighteenth Century, Charlottesville, 1991, fig. 119.

Sales cat., Sotheby’s, New York, Nov. 20, 1993, lot 241.

Dell, T. et al. The Dodge Collection of Eighteenth-Century French and English Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts. New York, 1996, no. 8, pp. 55-60, color repr. p. 57.

Baulez, C. "Le coffre à bijoux (1770) de Marie-Antoinette revient à Versailles." Revue du Louvre et la Revue des Musees de France (June 3, 1997): 17-19.

Secrest, Meryle. Duveen: a life in art. New York, 2004, pp. 437.