The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Wardrobe
  • Attributed to André-Charles Boulle (1642 - 1732) , securely
  • Pierre Gaudron (+1745), Movement Maker
  • France
  • 1715
    1775 - 1800 (plinth added (with armoire at Donjeux sale, 1793))
    1800 - 1900 (brass fret behind clock pendulum glass, Apollo mask on bob, numerals repainted on enamel plaques)
  • Oak, ebony, première- and contre-partie Boulle marquetry of brass and turtleshell, gilt bronze, gilt brass, brass, enamel, paint, steel, glass, gilt-bronze and steel keys
  • Object size: 311.5 x 196 x 65.8 cm
  • Inscription: 'Gaudron A Paris' Engraved
  • F429
  • Billiard Room
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Together with its companion piece in première-partie marquetry, this wardrobe was listed in the workshop of the great cabinetmaker André-Charles Boulle in October 1715 when he handed over his workshop to his sons. It is veneered with contre-partie marquetry, with the design laid out in turtleshell against a background of brass, and was valued at less than its companion where the turtleshell provides the background, reflecting the lesser expense of brass veneer as opposed to turtleshell.

    Although he did not invent the technique, Boulle gave his name to this type of marquetry, so often to be found on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century furniture. Few pieces of furniture can today be definitely associated with his workshop, but this is one of them.

    The movement of the clock at the top of the wardrobe is by Pierre Gaudron (maitre 1691, died 1745) who was clockmaker to the Regent. The central clock case closely resembles a drawing in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, formerly attributed to G-M. Oppenord, but now to Boulle himself.
    The symbolism of the infants around the clock dial is not entirely clear, but the infant with the owl is more likely to represent Night than Learning. The infant scattering flowers may represent Dawn, by analogy with Aurora. The diapered marquetry on the outer, upper sections of the door are very similar to the patterns found on Japanese seventeenth-century lacquer and may well have been a deliberate attempt by Boulle to adapt the oriental motif for use on French furniture. Certainly the entire effect of black (ebony) and gold (gilt brass) evokes black lacquer of the period which Europeans were not able to make.