The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Copy of the bureau du roi of Louis XV
  • Roll-top desk
  • Copy of the bureau du roi of Louis XV
  • Dreschler
  • Charles Couët, Movement Maker
  • France
  • c. 1855 - 1860
  • Oak, sycamore, ebony, box, amaranth, Sèvres biscuit porcelain plaques gilt-bronze, leather, satiné, steel, brass and enamel
  • Object size: 143 x 183 x 97.5 cm
  • Inscription: 'Lepaute / hger . Du Roy' Painted
    Inscription: 'Delemy / M. Couet / Un nom en bas / h.ger du Roy / a chaud' Painted
    Stamp: 'Ch.les Couët à Paris / No 201'
    Inscription: 'Cleaned Dec 15th 1914 / H Hildersley' Scratched
    Inscription: 'Cleaned Dec 17th 1914 / H. Hildersley' Scratched
    Stamp: 'COUET / ELÈVE / DE BREGUET' (within an oval) 'MEDAILLE D'OR / Pons' (within a circle)
    Stamp: 'MEDAILLE D'OR / Pons / 1827' (within a circle)
    Inscription: 'H H 1914 / 22531 H H' Scratched
  • F460
  • Back State Room
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This desk is a copy of probably the most celebrated piece of eighteenth-century French furniture, the 'bureau du roi', or roll-top desk (the first of its kind) now at Versailles, which was made for Louis XV by Jean-François Oeben (1721-1763) and Jean-Henri Riesener (1734-1806) and delivered in 1769.
    It was made for the 4th Marquess of Hertford, probably by Carl Dreschler, in Paris. In the 1850s the 4th Marquess of Hertford was a friend of Napoleon III and the Empress Eugénie and is likely to have seen the original desk, either in the grand salon of the Tuileries or, later, in Eugénie's study at the palace of Saint-Cloud to where it was moved by 1855. The maker has copied the desk as it was after the alterations of 1794, when the original interlaced Ls of Louis XV were replaced with biscuit porcelain Sèvres plaques and elements of the marquetry decoration were changed.
    Lord Hertford's copy may date from the 1850s and is believed to have cost him £3000, an enormous amount of money. He commissioned other copies of celebrated pieces of French eighteenth-century furniture at this time, made in both France and England, but this and a copy of the bureau of the Elector of Bavaria (museum number F461) are the only two in the Wallace Collection. His copy of the bureau du roi was the first of a number of copies that were produced from the 1870s by leading cabinet-makers in Paris, including Henri Dasson (exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in 1878), J-E. Zweiner, Alfred Beurdeley, J-H. Jansen and François Linke.