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Boulle work, Boulle marquetry, or the Boulle style refer to a manner of decoration that takes after the work of André-Charles Boulle (French, 1642-1732). Boulle, who was described by his contemporaries as “the most skilful artisan in Paris”, was a French cabinetmaker of great renown, who worked as the cabinetmaker (or ébéniste) and sculptor for the king of France, Louis XIV. Boulle's talent for highly detailed marquetry work, which combined tortoiseshell, pewter, and brass, led to the technique itself being named after him.
Though immensely popular during the prime of his life, the popularity of Boulle style furniture increased dramatically when his designs were published around in 1720. The trend for Boulle work continued long after his death, with many copies and interpretations of Boulle furniture produced using ebony-mounted tortoiseshell and brass marquetry veneer with sculptural gilt bronze mounts.
Original Boulle work cabinets, tables and armoires, and their later 18th and 19th Century copies, remain highly desired collectors’ items of extraordinary beauty.