Lot 144
  • 144

A German Baroque ebony and brass 'Boulle marquetry' bureau Mazarincirca 1700, later legs

10,000 - 15,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • brass, ebony, pine
  • Height:  30 inches
    Width:  46  1/2  inches
    Depth:  26 inches


The Estate of Earl Amherst, M.C.

Catalogue Note

In the first three decades of the 18th century, the so-called “Boulle” marquetry technique enjoyed particular favor in the German-speaking world, most notably in Southern Germany, Munich and Vienna. This was a direct result of Bavaria's historical alliance to France, where Maximilian II Emanuel of Bavaria (1662-1726) had sought refuge during the War of the Spanish Succession from 1708 to 1715. Furnishings decorated with “Boulle” marquetry were highly prized and adorned the interiors of the princely and royal residences of Schleiβheim, Ansbach, Pommersfelden, and Bamberg, among others. The most lavish examples of such exuberant furnishings were manufactured in the south German city of Augsburg, which had been known for its output of luxury objects since the Renaissance. German masters of the “Boulle” technique include Ferdinand Plitzner, Johann Puchwieser, and Martin Schuhmacher. Whereas French craftsmen mostly used brass in combination with tortoiseshell to execute their intricate inlays, German makers also often utilized pewter, or often omitted tortoiseshell all together and juxtaposed the metal marquetry against a deep-colored wooden background, as seen on the lot offered here. The present bureau exhibits the south German taste for Parisian furniture not only in its “Boulle” decoration but also in its “Mazarin” form, which is was considered distinctly French as opposed to the local “Aufsatzschreibtisch,” a writing desk with a superstructure. For a similar desk in the French taste with comparable inlay of bright metal inlay by Puchweiser from the Blauen Kabinett at Schloss Schleiβheim, see Brigitte Langer, Die Möbel der Schlösser Nymphenburg und Schleißheim, Munich, 2000, p. 38. The present desk derives from the collection of Jeffery John Archer Amherst, 5th Earl Amherst (1896-1993), a WWI veteran and former director of British European Airways. As he never married and died without an heir, the earldom became extinct upon his death.