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Carved secrétaire with scrolling pierced gallery above three shallow drawers, frieze carved with Bernese farming and sporting scenes. Hinged lid containing mechanical architect's slope. Supported on elaborate carved legs joined by a stretcher.
This remarkable piece appeared in the Swiss section of the Great Exhibition of 1851, where it can be seen in Joseph Nash's watercolour. It was singled out by M.D. Wyatt for the quality of its carving, incorporating pursuits characteristic of the Canton of Berne, such as Steinstossen and Schwingen, and the ingenious mechanism, allowing it to be used either standing or sitting. Such was the demand for this type of carving by the mid-nineteenth century that Wetli's workshop, founded by him in 1837, had twenty workmen in constant employment.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert acquired this writing desk at the Great Exhibition. It is listed as a 'present' and was probably acquired by the royal couple with their children in mind, just at the moment when Prince Albert conceived the idea of creating the Swiss Cottage at Osborne. It was here, in the room on the first floor, which the Queen used occasionally for writing, that the desk was placed.