A French Louis XVI Style Ebony and Kingwood Marquetry Bureau Plat

9776 A Louis XVI style ebony and kingwood marquetry bureau plat, constructed from a 17th century bureau attributed to Aubertin Gaudron, the rectangular top with a scrolling frieze of birds flowers and insects with ‘grotesque’ masks at the corners, the three frieze drawers similarly inlaid, dummy drawers to the reverse, the end panels with wreaths of flowers and scrolls, standing on square tapering legs with festoon mounts.




The marquetry circa 1680, Aubertin Gaudron, Gobelins workshops.


Width: 177.5 cm (70 ins)

Depth: 83 cm (32.75 ins)

Height: 81.5 cm (32 ins)                                                          £30,000



Aubertin Gaudron was a leading cabinetmaker or ebeniste working in Paris during the period of Louis XIV, he is recorded as furnishing the French Royal palaces between 1687-1713. From his workshop on Rue St Honore he supplied the leading tastemakers including the Prince de Conde and the Duc du Chartres as well as Royal clients such as the Duc de Bourgogne and apartments in the palace of Marly.

Gaudron, in common with most cabinetmakers of the time, rarely marked his work but he has been identified with a brand AG found on extravagant marquetry pieces, some with cut brass and others with complex wood designs, as here. Corner masks with “grotesque” faces typify his output, frequently cut in fruitwoods into an ebony background. Two small eight leg bureau plats in the Royal Garde Meuble received from Gaudron are recorded in a contemporary inventory in 1688 as “wood marquetry of flowers…. having vases of flowers with birds and butterflies”.The marquetry on our bureau plat  accurately represents finches among flowers, with butterlies, crickets and bees wandering around the borders and  can be associated with recorded designs by Gaudron.

It is intriguing to understand the history of this desk, but it seems likely that originally it was supported on eight, column legs with stretchers and had a central drawer with two (or three) drawers on either side. It is probable that at the end of the eighteenth century due to structural wear and tear the legs were replaced and the format of the drawers altered to fit with the current neo-classical Louis XVI taste though the overall dimensions remain unchanged. During the first quarter of the nineteenth century, the table probably arrived in London where the locks were changed and some structural strengthening carried out. The English market was the principal centre for French furniture following the Revolutionary sales in Paris and London retailers such as EH Baldock were particularly attracted to the marquetry of Louis XIV for their English clients.

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