The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Corner-cupboard
  • Attributed to Martin Carlin (1730 - 1785)
  • France
  • c. 1772
  • Oak, ebony, contre-partie Boulle marquetry of turtleshell, pewter and brass, gilt bronze and brocatello marble
  • Object size: 97.4 x 90.5 x 56.5 cm
  • F414
  • East Galleries II
Further Reading
  • This corner cupboard is a pair to another in the Wallace Collection (F415). The popularity of Boulle-style furniture revived from c. 1760 with the increasing interest in seventeenth-century French classicism and its interpretation of the Antique, and with the so-called goût-grec, a precursor to the neo-classical taste of the last quarter of the eighteenth century. The Parisian dealers did much to stimulate this fashion by selling old pieces by André-Charles Boulle (1642-1732) and by commissioning new pieces in the same manner. Martin Carlin was a highly accomplished ébéniste who appears to have worked mainly for Parisian dealers (marchands-merciers) and it is likely that these pieces were commissioned by one of these men. Although these pieces are not stamped by Carlin, there is another pair with matching premiere-partie marquetry bearing his mark in a private collection.

    Apart from the marquetry technique, the elements on these pieces that recall the seventeenth century are the gilt bronze mounts which derive from Boulle’s work and, ultimately, from a ceiling painting in the Queen’s Apartment at Versailles by Michel Corneille the Younger (1642-1708) entitled 'Aspasia, Queen of Egypt, among the Philosophers of Greece'.

    These cupboards were probably owned by the duc d’Aumont, a great collector and patron of the arts, and sold after his death in 1782. The 4th Marquess of Hertford acquired them sometime before 1865 when one of them was lent to the Musée Retrospectif in Paris and was described as being from the time of Louis XIV. However, Boulle marquetry corner cupboards are examples of a furniture type that appear never to have been made by A.-C. Boulle himself.