About this artwork
The cabinetmaker André-Charles Boulle was responsible for some of the finest examples of French furniture made during the reign of Louis XIV (1643–1715). Boulle perfected the technique of veneering furniture with a rich marquetry of tortoiseshell, pewter, and gilt copper, and he further enriched his surfaces with sculptural gilt bronze mounts. Acclaimed for his brilliant designs and superb execution, Boulle was commis- sioned by the most discerning and demanding patrons in France, among them members of the royal family, aristocrats, ministers, and financiers.
This rectangular coffer is a visually powerful example of Boulle’s work from the early eighteenth century. Such objects served as containers for medals or jewels. This example is richly veneered with marquetry panels of scrolls, strapwork, and vines executed in engraved gilt copper on a ground of tortoiseshell. Framing the panels are strips of ebony and pewter. The coffer also features gilt bronze mounts in the form of male, female, and animal heads. The escutcheon in the center of the front panel may depict the head of Apollo, his long hair braided on either side of his face and gathered in a knot below his chin. The lid contains a grinning, bearded male face, perhaps that of a satyr, crowned with a radiating headdress, the whole of which supports a handle.
- André Charles Boulle
- Oak, tortoiseshell, brass, pewter, ebony, and gilt-bronze mounts
- 44.5 × 73 × 48.3 cm (17 1/2 × 28 3/4 × 19 in.)
- Michael A. Bradshaw and Kenneth S. Harris, Eloise W. Martin, Richard T. Crane, Jr., Memorial, and European Decorative Arts Purchase funds; through prior acquisitions of Mrs. C. H. Boissevain in memory of Henry C. Dangler, Kate S. Buckingham Endowment, David Dangler, Harold T. Martin, and Katherine Field-Rodman