The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Knee-hole writing-table
  • Knee-hole writing-table
  • Attributed to Alexandre-Jean Oppenordt (1639 - 1715)
  • France
  • c. 1710
  • Oak, première- and contre-partie Boulle marquetry of brass and turtleshell, gilt bronze, walnut and ebony
  • Object size: 85 x 132 x 73 cm
  • F57
  • East Galleries I
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This rectangular writing-table has an oak carcase, veneered with première- and contre-partie Boule marquetry of brass and turtleshell, and is fitted with seven walnut drawers. There are eight scrolling legs arranged in two sets of four, and gilt bronze mounts including male masks at the side crowned with oak leaves, with handles below.
    The marquetry of the top shows Apollo with his lyre enthroned in the centre, flanked by candelabra, sphinxes, arabesques, satyrs, Cupids, winged insects and strapwork. The central part is taken from an engraving by Marie Daigremont after a design by Jean Bérain (1640-1711), Louis XIV's Dessinateur de la Chambre et Cabinet du Roi. This, and the fact that the shape of the legs is suggested in a design for a writing-table by Bérain in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, have led to the attribution of this writing-desk to Alexandre-Jean Opponordt (c. 1639-1711). The writing-table by Oppenordt in the Metropolitan Museum in New York made for Louis XIV's 'petit cabinet' (or private study) in 1685 shares the same outline as the top part of this writing-table, but the marquetry on this one and the lighter impression given by the knee-hole and the movement of the legs suggests a later date. There is a première-partie version of this table in the Royal Collection.