Ebony, marquetry in metal and tortoise shell
Overall: 101.3 x 117.6 x 50 cm (39 7/8 x 46 5/16 x 19 11/16 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1949.539
Originally designed to sit atop an elaborate tall stand, this chest was likely altered in the late 1700s to reduce its scale and height.
Appointed cabinetmaker to King Louis XIV in 1672, André-Charles Boulle became a master of furniture making in France during the late 1600s until his death in 1732. Known primarily for his use of marquetry, in which metal patterns are inlaid into tortoiseshell then applied within the veneered surface of the furniture, Boulle established a level of quality and craftsmanship few others could achieve. As a result, his work found favor at the royal court and among other aristocrats and diplomats eager to impress the king. The inclusion of a medallion depicting Louis XIV within the bronze decoration of this chest would have identified the owner with the royal court. Often exhibiting stout architectural proportions with elegant groups of inlaid motifs such as the parrot on the central panel of this chest, Boulle’s designs are an example of the intellectual fashion for contrasting ideas, materials, and motifs.
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