The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Coffer on stand
  • Coffer on stand
  • Manner of André-Charles Boulle (1642 - 1732)
  • France
  • c. 1820
  • Oak, pinewood, première-partie Boulle marquetry of brass and turtleshell, gilt bronze, brass, ebony, light green velvet, gold braid, black leather tooled with gold
  • Object size: 42.5 x 79 x 18 cm, coffer
    Object size: 69 x 97.5 x 64 cm, stand
  • Stamp: 'P'
    Inscription: 'F. Feser / April 1944 / At Hall Barn' in pencil
  • F47
  • Great Gallery
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This is a pair to another coffer and stand in the Wallace Collection (F48).
    They illustrate the continuing popularity of Boulle furniture in the nineteenth century in both France and England; they are catalogued as being of French manufacture but they were owned by the 2nd Marchioness of Hertford who lived in England and, like her son, was a great friend of the Prince of Wales. The construction of the pair reinforces their nineteenth-century provenance, as shown by the use of thin pinewood boards in oak frames for the tops of the stands and for the bottoms of the drawer compartments, the flush-fitting brass locks of both coffers and drawers, and the use of steel brackets at the tops of the legs. The vases are almost certainly nineteenth-century castings of a Louis XVI model, and the eclecticism of some of the other mounts attests to their nineteenth-century manufacture, with some deriving from Boulle models, others from other early eighteenth-century workshops and some being early nineteenth-century designs such as the crowns and cushions on the lids.
    Although the construction appears to be French, the corner mounts on the stand are identical to ones found on a table by Thomas Parker in a British private collection, so there is some question as to where these caskets on stands were actually made. It would indeed be very early to find Boulle furniture being made in the Louis XIV taste in France at this time (1820s), whereas the taste for Boulle furniture was already fashionable at this date in Britain. One possibility may be that Parker had French craftsmen working for him.
    We also do not know whether contemporaries viewed these coffers as being modern copies or 18th-century originals. In the will of the 2nd Marchioness of Hertford, dated 1831, she specifically left ‘two coffres [sic] of fine old Buhl’ to her eldest son, which appear to be these. The description seems extraordinary if they were really only ten years old and the question arises, had she been sold these pieces in the belief that they were by Boulle or at the very least that they were early eighteenth century? If so, this suggests a point had been reached where either collectors or dealers, or both, were being ‘duped’ by copies and reproductions.