The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Side table
  • Side table
  • Attributed to André-Charles Boulle (1642 - 1732)
  • Jean-François Leleu (1729 - 1807), Restorer
  • France
  • c. 1705
    1764 - 1807 (Louis XVI style cassolette probably added during restoration by Leleu)
  • Oak, pinewood, walnut, gilt bronze, brass and première- and contre-partie Boulle marquetry of brass and turtleshell
  • Object size: 78.5 x 120 x 50.5 cm
  • Stamp: 'J.F. LELEU' (twice)
  • F425
  • Billiard Room
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This bow-fronted table is very similar to another in the Wallace Collection (F424) except that the première-partie Boulle marquetry on the top depicts an elaborate birdcage and not a triumphal chariot. The monkeys on either side play music, walk a tightrope or raise a glass in their hand and the marquetry has several figures in common with that on top of another console table in the Wallace Collection (F56). The group of four monkeys on the left is taken from a late 17th-century copy of an engraving by Pieter van der Borcht IV (1580-1608). The marquetry of the entire top corresponds, with minor variations, to a composite engraved pull of the same design in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, which was formerly thought to be a template for cutting the marquetry of tops like this one, but which is now thought to be a pull taken in three separate sheets from an actual table top and then gummed together.
    The table resembles a drawing attributed to André-Charles Boulle in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, with some variations. This design reappeared, captioned as a 'Grande Table' and with a female mask on the drawer front, in Boulle's 'Nouveaux Deisseins de Meubles et Ouvrages de Bronze et de Marqueterie', published after 1707.
    It has been suggested that both this and the little console table, F56, were types of table that were amongst the seven made by Boulle for the duchesse de Bourgogne at the Château de la Ménagerie at Versailles, in 1701, albeit those were of much smaller dimensions befitting the young duchess.
    Three groups of tables of this type have been identified; the first consists of tables that follow the Boulle drawing in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs quite closely and have tops, where they survive, that either show this 'Birdcage' design or the 'Triumphal Chariot' design found on another Wallace Collection table (F424). The second and probably later group are generally slightly larger and have female heads at the tops of the front legs instead of the satyr masks found on this table, while the third group are considered to be the products of mid-18th century ébénistes responding to the later demand for furniture in the Boulle style.
    From 18th-century sales catalogues we can tell that tables of this type existed both as individual models and as pairs and they were designed to be placed on either side of a chimney, or between windows. The tops were of marquetry, as in this example, or of leather or marble. This table has been displayed as a pair with the similar table in the Wallace Collection (F424) since 1870, but they may have been together since the late 18th century since they share the same key for their drawers. The differences in height and framing of the marquetry tops, however, suggest that they were originally intended as single tables.
    Stamped beneath the back rail of the stretcher is the mark ;J.F. LELEU', the mark used by Jean-François Leleu (1729-1807, maitre 1764) who probably restored the table and may have added the cassolette of strongly Louis XVI character in the centre of the stretcher.