The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Knee-hole writing-table
  • Knee-hole writing-table
  • Louis Constantin Le Gaigneur (active between: 1814-21 (at least))
  • England
  • 1814 - 1821
  • Pine, oak (some ebonised), ebony, Boulle marquetry of brass, turtleshell, copper and pewter, leather, copper, brass, gilt bronze, steel locks and key
  • Object size: 78.2 x 156 x 94.5 cm
  • Inscription: 'Louis Le Gaigneur fecit' Scratched
  • F479
  • West Gallery III
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • This knee-hole writing table is made of pine, with legs and drawers of oak, veneered with Boulle marquetry of brass, turtleshell, copper and pewter. There are gilt-bronze mounts of female masks, and capitals at the top of the legs, and the table top is lined with red leather for writing. It may have been used as a library table in the 19th century, and is designed to have been seen on all four sides, thus suggesting a position in the centre of a room.
    The pewter veneer of the knee-hole is scratched with 'Louis Le Gaigneur fecit'. Louis Le Gaigneur was a Frenchman who worked in England between 1814-1821 but about whom not much is known. It would appear that he exploited the increasingly fashionable taste for pre-Revolutionary French furniture and, particularly, for furniture veneered with Boulle marquetry. This writing-table has many of the elements of both form and decoration of the late 17th century, but it is an entirely new model with different proportions and marquetry motifs. The taste for this kind of object was shared by the Earl of Yarmouth (later 3rd Marquess of Hertford) and his friend the Prince Regent, and Le Gaigneur also supplied two similar tables in 1815 to the Prince which are still in the Royal Collection.
    Le Gaigneur's shop was called The Buhl Manufactory, and was at No. 19 Queen Street, on the east side of the Edgware Road in London. In 1818 he described himself as a 'metal bust maker' so he may have also made his own gilt-bronze mounts.