Porcelain mounted parquetry bonheur du jour by Donald Ross

By Ross, Donald (British, 1830-1916)


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A bonheur du jour, which translates into English as ‘daytime happiness’ or ‘daytime delight’, is a type of writing desk traditionally used by women in high French society. The form of the elegant desk, which is always light and graceful, became fashionable in the 1760s, with the apogee of popularity coinciding with the reign of Louis XVI. For this reason, many such desks are designed in the Neoclassicism of Louis XVI’s time.

The present desk is by Donald Ross, one of the leading producers of luxury furniture active in English during the latter-half of the 19th century. The desk features four square profile tapered wooden legs, the corners and edges finished with ormolu strapping and the legs terminating in ormolu foliate sabots. The four legs, via an ormolu capital, support the tabletop, which is raised upon a stretcher inset with two frieze drawers. A large central cabinet is situated to the rear centre of the tabletop—the cabinet opening to reveal two shelves. This cabinet is flanked by two smaller bays containing three drawers each.

The surfaces of the desk are superbly veneered with ebonised wood and ornate latticework marquetry. The centre of the apron and the front of the surmounting cabinet are mounted with oval Sèvres style porcelain plaques—a reference to the French origins of this type of desk. In addition to the marquetry and porcelain plaques, the desk is extensively adorned with ormolu mounts: an ornate moulded mount encompasses the tabletop, pierced galleries surmount the cabinets, and the porcelain plaques are contained within superbly wrought ormolu frames. It is matched perfectly by another very similar piece also in our collection, as photographed above, and together would make a beautiful pair of objects.


Artist / Maker
By Ross, Donald (British, 1830-1916)
Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
Late 19th Century
Late 19th Century
Neoclassical, Sèvres, Victorian
Ebonised Wood, Ormolu (Gilt Bronze), Parquetry, Porcelain
Blue, Brown, Gold, Multi-coloured


133 cm / 52.4 inches
108 cm / 42.5 inches
61 cm / 24 inches


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