Details & Cataloguing

Style : Mobilier, Objets d’art et Orfèvrerie


A Louis XV gilt-bronze mounted, ebony and copper marquetry bureau plat, circa 1760, after a model by André-Charles Boulle
decorated in 'contrepartie' foliages and arabesques, the front with a satyr mask opening with three drawers, resting on arched amounts topped with Démocrite masks, the top upholstered in black leather; (three key locks replaced)
Haut. 80 cm, larg. 182 cm, prof. 89 cm ; Height 31 1/2  in; width 71 3/4 in; depht 35 in
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report


Sold Sotheby's London, 21 June 1974, lot 61
Sold Christie's London, 6 July 2006, lot 200
Sold Sotheby's Paris, 19 April 2016, lot 139


Références bibliographiques

P. Kjellberg, Le Mobilier français du XVIIIe siècle, Paris, 1989, p. 110
A. Pradère, Les Ebénistes français de Louis XIV à la Révolution, Tours, 1986
J. N. Ronfort et all, André-Charles Boulle, 1642-1732, Un nouveau Style pour l'Europe, cat. expo. Frankfurt, 2009

Catalogue Note

This bureau plat is directly inspired by a desk created by André-Charles Boulle during the early 18th century, as evident with a drawing kept in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris (inv. 723B). This model, with diverse variants, was a resounding success that unequivocally influenced other workshops.

Traditionally attributed to André-Charles Boulle and his workshop (between 1710-1730), a concurring analysis of the two desks, the one we present and that from the former collection of Etienne Lévy (reproduced in L'oeil, May 1977) auctioned by Sotheby's in New York on 19 November 1993, lot 41, has brought forth numerous analogies which tend to specify their manufacturing date within the same workshop.

An examination of the employed woods and their homogeneity, the construction via cabinet-making techniques, the building and assembling, an identical design with rather unadorned marquetry, the obvious similarities of the bronze casts (same modello), and the different but analogous chisel work on each desk, suggests a production from the same Parisian workshop, being distant from that of André-Charles Boulle. It was probably a workshop active in the mid-18th century specializing in Boulle marquetry (restoration and fabrication), which produced furniture "in the Boulle genre" by reusing ornaments and bronzes created by Boulle (masks of satyrs and of the philosophers Democritus and Heraclitus). No stamp was found on these two desks. If this had been the case, it would have probably reduced the purpose of the cabinetmaker to the rank of simple restorer of Boulle furniture and his workshop. It is impossible today to clarify the origin, even if several cabinetmaker workshops can be cited such as Faizelot-Delorme. We hope that future research and comparisons with other furniture pieces presenting these characteristics will lead to an attribution based on objective criteria.

Style : Mobilier, Objets d’art et Orfèvrerie