The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
The Londonderry Cabinet
  • Bookcase
  • The Londonderry Cabinet
  • Etienne Levasseur (1721 - 1798)
  • France
  • c. 1775
  • Oak veneered with ebony and première- and contre-partie Boulle marquetry of brass and turtleshell, glass, gilt bronze, brass, steel, pinewood and buff velvet
  • Object size: 182 x 602 x 43 cm
  • Stamp: 'E. LEVASSEUR'
  • F390
  • Large Drawing Room
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This magnificent bookcase is veneered with ebony and with première- and contre-partie Boulle marquetry of brass and turtleshell. It has three compartments, fitted with pinewood shelves, closed by glazed double doors and separated by pilasters veneered with Boulle marquetry. There are gilt bronze mounts on the front and sides including bearded male masks, winged infants and the groups of Apollo and Marsyas and Apollo and Daphne.
    It is a reinterpretation of a design by André-Charles Boulle (1642-1732) by Etienne Levasseur (1721-1798, maître 1767) and is closely related to a pen-and-wash drawing after Boulle showing a bookcase with accompanying filing-cabinet and writing-table that was destroyed in the Second World War. This drawing was annotated by a contemporary hand and from these references it was clear that the design had been carried out; the similarities in measurements and decorative detail suggest that the Wallace Collection bookcase was copied from one made after the drawing. Similar bookcases are known from eighteenth-century portraits and one was supplied by the marchand-mercier Lazare Duvaux to the great connoisseur and art collector, Lalive de Jully, in 1756.
    The Wallace Collection piece appears to follow the Lalive example closely, although the original shape has been adapted to the neo-classical taste of the last quarter of the eighteenth century and the compartments have glazed doors, whereas earlier these would have been filled with a brass wire mesh. It may be linked to two similar bookcases in the Royal Collection.