Bureau Plat thumbnail 1
Bureau Plat thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
Not currently on display at the V&A
On display at Longleat House, Wiltshire

Bureau Plat

1690 (designed), 1690 (made)
Place of origin

The object is on loan ro Longleat, Wiltshire, inside the Red Library.

Object details

Object type
Materials and techniques
boulle and marquetry bureau with ormolu mounts
Brief description
Bureau plat by Andre-Charles Boulle, boulle and marquetry with ormolu mounts, French, 18th c.
Physical description
A Louis XIV ormolu-mounted Boulle and marquetry bureau by André-Charles Boulle, the baize-lined rectangular top with a band of scrolling foliage and flowerheads, the spandrels with zoomorphic scallop masks, the kneehole flanked by seven panelled drawers with foliate borders and scrolling cartouche and foliate keyplates, the panelled sides and reverse created by panels of blue tortoise-shell with bacchic masks and songbirds among scrolling foliage and flowerheads, on eight square tapering legs headed by gadrooned collars and joined by double Y-stretchers, and with pinecone feet, the undercarriage reframed.
  • Width: 2000mm
  • Height: 820mm
  • Depth: 985mm
Measured during a Conservation site visit in 2021.
Production typeUnique
Credit line
Accepted by HM Government in lieu of Tax and allocated to the Victoria and Albert Museum
Object history
Historical significance: The importance of this piece rests in its representation of the high quality wood marquetry which was also produced by the workshop of André-Charles Boulle, as well as the better-known marquetry in tortoiseshell and brass. Such wood marquetry by Boulle is extremely rare and in Britain is only represented by the panel (re-mounted in a late 18th century British cabinet) at The Bowes Museum and by a cabinet at Drumlanrig. Additionally, the piece is a rare early form of bureau plat, unrepresented in this collection. Only one other piece of this form, which can be attributed to the Boulle workshops, is in a North American collection. The use of large areas of blue horn and brass marquetry in panels on the sides of the desk also indicates an origin in a workshop catering to the highest levels of luxury. Though the carcase of this piece has been much altered and the base partially replaced in the 19th century, we accept that this was common practice and, indeed, indicates the continued enthusiasm for such pieces by collectors throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The object is on loan ro Longleat, Wiltshire, inside the Red Library.
Accession number

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Record createdFebruary 20, 2001
Record URL
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