Ormolu mounted ebonised wood Boulle marquetry desk

Style of Boulle, André-Charles (French, 1642-1732)


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This rectangular desk is wrought from ormolu (gilt bronze) mounted ebonised wood. Most remarkably, the surfaces of the desk are profusely veneered with tortoiseshell inlaid with brass. Such refined marquetry is known as ‘Boulle’ or ‘Boullework’ after the celebrated 17th and 18th Century ébéniste André-Charles Boulle.

The desk is raised by four cabriole legs, each leg terminating in an ormolu foliate scroll sabot. The ormolu sabot runs narrowly along the outer curved edge of the leg, joining a large ormolu grotesque mask that adorns the top of each leg. The legs support the tabletop, below which is a shaped apron, while to the front of the desk is inset a large frieze drawer.

Throughout the desk, the surfaces are profusely veneered with tortoiseshell—whether the surfaces of the legs, the apron, or the writing surface of the tabletop. Moreover, this tortoiseshell is finished with première-partie marquetry, wherein the tortoiseshell is inlaid with another material, in this instance almost exclusively brass. The brass inlays are exceptionally ornate throughout, featuring wonderful scrolling arabesques and foliate forms. The tabletop is particularly detailed: the brass inlay has been wrought into figures, architectural elements, and a variety of geometrical motifs. The result is remarkably rich and detailed surface.

In addition to the Boulle marquetry, the desk is adorned with wonderfully cast and finished ormolu mounts: the apron is mounted with grotesque masks and the drawer front with a duo of cherubim. The glistening ormolu, in combination with the marvellously detailed marquetry, grant this writing desk a truly remarkable character.


Artist / Maker
Style of Boulle, André-Charles (French, 1642-1732)
Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
19th Century
19th Century
Boulle, Neoclassical
Brass, Ebonised Wood, Marquetry, Ormolu (Gilt Bronze), Tortoiseshell
Black, Gold, Multi-coloured, Red


71 cm / 28 inches
97 cm / 38.2 inches
58 cm / 22.8 inches


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