Pair of ormolu mounted Boulle side cabinets


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This magnificent pair of Louis XIV style side cabinets is wrought from ebonised wood, inset with Boulle marquetry of brass, pewter, and tortoiseshell, and mounted with ormolu (gilt bronze).

Each cabinet stands on four ormolu tapered, spiral feet, while each is surmounted by a veined marble top above an ormolu coronal frieze of acanthus leaves interspersed with floral sprays. Between the bottom and top, the body of each cabinet is articulated by four square-form columns to each corner. The columns, their surfaces inset with geometrical schemes of pewter and brass inlay, are mounted with ormolu tori and capitals and set to their centres with ormolu classical masks.

Each cabinet features three front drawers ornamented with Boulle marquetry. In one cabinet, brass and pewter are inlaid into tortoiseshell and ebonised wood in an elaborate geometrical scheme; this type of marquetry is known as première-partie. Conversely, the other cabinet features contre-partie marquetry, where tortoiseshell and ebonised wood are inlaid into brass. The pair form a so-called male and female set, where the marquetry of one is the complementary inverse to the marquetry of the other. Each drawer is encompassed by a foliate ormolu frame, mounted with an enlarged ormolu mask-form escutcheon, and set with twin ormolu rosette-form handles. Most interestingly—further emphasising the complementary nature of the pair—the mask-form escutcheons of one cabinet are grotesque in form, while the escutcheons of the other are ideally beautiful.

The side of each cabinet is set with a large, rather masculine putto-like figural mount, each of the four figures carrying a different assortment of classicising motifs. One figure carries an easel and paintbrush, the personification of fine art; another holds a violin and bow, the embodiment of music; the third holds a caduceus (a staff entwined by twin snakes), which is associated with both the gods Hermes and Asclepius; the fourth stands by a globe and holds a telescope, thus symbolising the science of astronomy. Each of the four figures is surrounded by a geometrical frame composed of inlaid brass and pewter, thus complementing the marquetry present throughout the pair of pieces.


Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
19th Century
19th Century
Boulle, Louis XIV
Brass, Ebonised Wood, Marble, Ormolu (Gilt Bronze), Pewter, Tortoiseshell
Black, Gold, Metallic, Silver


101 cm / 39.8 inches
79 cm / 31.1 inches
49 cm / 19.3 inches


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