Etienne Levasseur (1721 - 1798)
- c. 1775
- Oak, ebony, contre-partie Boulle marquetry of turtleshell, tin and brass, walnut, brocatello marble, gilt bronze and steel
- Object size: 102.7 x 80.5 x 40.2 cm
- East Galleries II
- One of a pair (with F392) of cabinets (meubles à hauteur d'appui) veneered with ebony and contre-partie Boulle marquetry. Each contains twelve drawers, four behind the central door and four on each side, although these are hidden behind a door decorated with simulated drawer fronts. The cabinets are mounted with gilt bronze ornament, including lion paws, a mask of Apollo, profile boys' heads and laurel garlands. The medallion on the front of this cabinet represents Henri IV in profile, while that on F392 depicts his close advisor, the duc de Sully. Both have tops of Brocatello marble.
Although based on a design by André-Charles Boulle (1642-1732), these cabinets date from the Louis XVI period and are attributed to Etienne Levasseur (1721-1798). During the 1760s and 1770s the appetite for Boulle furniture from art collectors and connoisseurs was very marked and Levasseur was one of several cabinet-makers who built up a successful business restoring original pieces by André-Charles Boulle, producing copies of them, or making neo-classical interpretations of early eighteenth-century Boulle furniture. The Wallace cabinets are very similar to a pair now in the Louvre that bear Levasseur's stamp. Previously thought to have been by Boulle with later modifications by Levasseur, the Louvre pair is now also considered to be the work of Levasseur, although perhaps reusing elements by Boulle. Levasseur has taken Boulle’s cabinet on stand design and transformed the top half into a ‘meuble à hauteur d'appui’, a piece of furniture that became fashionable in the second half of the eighteenth century. It was placed against the wall and bronzes or porcelain might have been displayed on the marble top. Often made in pairs, they were frequently used to furnish a 'cabinet' or gallery where paintings were hung.
There are small differences between the two Wallace cabinets which suggest that they may have come from two separate pairs, although these are not so great as to mean the cabinets were made by different workshops.