Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Her Majesty’s Furniture: A Wardrobe by André-Charles Boulle, 1700

Boulle, c. 1700
Purchased by George IV, 1825
The Royal Collection
André-Charles Boulle was one of the most celebrated furniture makers of Eighteenth Century France and enjoyed a long career and association with French King Louis XIV for whom he served as Royal furniture-maker and gilder. Boulle’s work was defined by his sense of architectural grandeur, his use of fine materials, inlays, marquetry and ormolu mounts. He produced furniture on a grand scale—including several monumental wardrobes which he designed for purposes of display more so than use. Nineteen such wardrobes have been identified as the work of Boulle.

In the 1820’s, as British King George IV was refurnishing Windsor Castle, his taste for French finery and antiques was satisfied by the designs of Boulle. George IV had spotted two large pieces of Boulle’s creation in the Royal Furniture Shop in Paris in 1825. This stunning wardrobe of oak, ebony, tortoiseshell, brass, pewter, kingwood, rosewood, mahogany, gilt bronze was one of them. He quickly spirited them back to Windsor Castle with the intention of placing them in his sitting room. However, they were too large. This piece ended up at an angle in The Grand Corridor where it remains today.

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