The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Writing-table
  • Attributed to André-Charles Boulle (1642 - 1732)
  • France
  • c. 1700 - c. 1710
    c.1775-1800 (drawers remade)
    1827 - 1856 (Boulle border removed from top and new gilt-bronze border and green leather added to top)
    1972 (current leather top fitted)
  • Oak, ebony, première-partie Boulle marquetry of brass and turtleshell, gilt bronze, green leather, walnut, satiné, Macassar ebony, brass locks, steel screws, steel key
  • Object size: 77.8 x 192.4 x 97 cm
  • Incised mark: 'DD'
    Incised mark: 'DR'
    Incised mark: 'GF'
    Incised mark: 'DRG'
    Incised mark: 'FD'
    Incised mark: 'RG'
    Incised mark: 'G'
    Incised mark: 'D'
  • F427
  • Billiard Room
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This desk (or 'bureau plat' in French) is one of the finest examples of furniture attributed to André-Charles Boulle (1642-1732) in the Wallace Collection. Boulle was instrumental in developing this form of table and produced several versions with slightly differing outlines, drawer configuration and mounts over a period of perhaps 25-30 years. The shape proved hugely successful, and went on to dominate the shape of writing furniture made by other ébénistes until the middle of the eighteenth century.

    The quality of the gilt bronze mounts on the desk is particularly fine, with satyrs' heads at the four corners and two masks on the central drawer fronts representing the weeping philosopher (Heraclitus) and his laughing counterpart, Democritus, both highly appropriate figures to have adorning a table intended for writing and study and belonging to an educated patron. The presence of the satyrs' heads suggest that this is one of Boulle's earlier bureau plat models, as in his probate inventory of 1732 such mounts are referred to as 'anciens'.