Ormolu and pietra dura mounted Napoleon III period desk


This superb desk, adorned with Rococo style ormolu mounts and pietra dura hardstone inlays, is a spectacular example of the wonderfully ornate Napoleon III style.


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This magnificent desk is a superb example of Napoleon III period design. The desk demonstrates eclectic influences—a characteristic common to art of the Second Empire—with forms and ideas derived from the Renaissance to the Rococo. In particular, the espagnolette mounts that adorn the shoulders of the legs are a Rococo period influence, while the pietra dura inlays upon the apron is rooted in the Renaissance.

The desk features a red leather plateau encompassed by an ormolu frame. The shaped apron below is inset to the front with a narrow drawer, which is flanked by two faux drawers. Strikingly, the faces of the drawer and the flanking panels are inset with pietra dura, or polychrome hardstone inlays, which in this instance have been arranged in elaborate and beautiful floral compositions. Similar inlays adorn the apron to the back and sides of the desk. The apron is set with fine ormolu mounts in the Rococo style, with the central drawer flanked by twin masks contained within scrolling rocaille forms. The shoulders of the ebonised wood legs are mounted with ormolu espagnolettes, while the cabriole legs terminate in foliate sabots.


Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
c. 1860s
19th Century
Napoleon III
Ebonised Wood, Hardstone, Leather, Ormolu (Gilt Bronze), Pietra Dura
Black, Gold, Multi-coloured, Red


77 cm / 30.3 inches
134 cm / 52.8 inches
78 cm / 30.7 inches


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