The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Writing-table
  • Jean-François Leleu (1729 - 1807)
  • France
  • 1774 - 1776
  • Oak, veneered with satiné, stained sycamore, box, amaranth, holly, amboyna, and mahogany, tulipwood, beech; brocatello marble, gilt bronze, gilt brass, leather, silk, and steel
  • Object size: 106.7 x 83 x 45.2 cm
  • Stamp: 'J.F. LELEU'
    Inscription: 'rouje Rouge 15'; 'vert 13'; 'jaune 20'; jaune 19'; 'bleux 18'; bleux 17'; 'vers 12'; 'rouje 14'; 'rouge 16'; 'rouje 22'; 'rouje 21' Handwritten
    Inscription: 'rouje 1'; 'rouge 2'; 'vers 3'; 'vers 4'; 'vers 5 5'; 'Jaune 6'; 'Jaune 7'; 'Bleux 8'; 'bleux 9'; 'bleux 10'; 'bleux 11' Handwritten
  • F323
  • Boudoir
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Reading and letter-writing were important activities in the daily life of wealthy educated French men and women in the second half of the eighteenth century and specialised pieces of furniture, like this table, were produced by some of the foremost cabinet-makers in Paris. Rather appropriately, this table is decorated with false book spines to evoke the function for which it is intended. These have faded over the years and were originally stained with red, blue, yellow and green dyes to be much more colourful. The book spines have been placed on the doors of three cupboards; the titles on the left comprise histories of towns and cities, those on the central door are literary, including the Letters of the Roman writer Horace, and those on the right are general histories. The drawers and cupboards hide shelves, compartments, and a silk-covered stand for reading or writing. There is also a secret drawer above the central cupboard which is opened by an ingenious mechanism that operates when you press on one of the flowerheads in the gilt-bronze frieze. The table once also had a wire trellis surrounding the shelf on three sides, probably serving to prevent books from falling off.
    The construction and immaculate interior finish are hallmarks of work by Jean-François Leleu.