• Date: c. 1670–75
  • Medium: Oak, walnut, pine, ebony, Boulle marquetry of brass, tin, turtleshell and copper, marquetry of various woods including amaranth and sycamore, gilt bronze, lacquered gold and lacquered silver, steel
  • Object size: 186.7 x 123 x 65 cm
  • Inv: F16
  • Location: Billiard Room
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Further Reading
  • This spectacular cabinet can be dated to the early 1670s, at a time when André-Charles Boulle was making his reputation and had just been appointed cabinetmaker to the king. Only four other similar cabinets are known to exist. A descendant of earlier ebony cabinets on stands, this piece is much more Baroque in character, with classical ornamentation, exuberant decoration and the sculptural effect provided by the prominent carved half-figures of Summer and Autumn. These caryatid terms echo those in the upper storey of the grand salon of Vaux-le-Vicomte and can be linked to a drawing by Charles Le Brun (1619–1690). The splendid floral wood marquetry dominates the decorative detail but Boulle is beginning to incorporate some elements of metal marquetry for which he was to become so famous, for example on the frieze drawer at the top and the framing around the cupboard door of the central section. The naturalistic depiction of flowers and insects in the wood marquetry reflects the growing interest in botany and gardens, and mirrors the fashion for Dutch still life flower paintings in the second half of the seventeenth century. Daffodils, peonies, narcissi, roses and honeysuckle can all be identified, along with two grasshoppers, a bee and a beetle which help enforce the illusion of the garden transported indoors.

    The medal of Louis XIV at the front of the cabinet is by Jean Warin (1606–1672). Such cabinets were largely made to impress, but the central section might also have been used for the display of prized works of art.

    There appear to have been some small alterations in the nineteenth century, perhaps in the Beurdeley workshop in Paris from whom Sir Richard Wallace acquired the cabinet in 1872.