Pedestal thumbnail 1
Pedestal thumbnail 2
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Europe 1600-1815, Room 5, The Friends of the V&A Gallery

Pedestal

1693-1710 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Furniture made for the grandest interiors in France in the years around 1700 was designed to impress rather than to be comfortable or necessarily useful. Large rooms were furnished with matching sets of tables and candlestands. One of the most fashionable forms of decoration for such furniture was boulle marquetry. In this work, the surface was veneered with ebony and with panels of scrolling marquetry in brass, tortoiseshell and sometimes other materials such as pewter or horn. The technique derived its name from André-Charles Boulle, cabinetmaker to Louis XIV. Although many other makers used this technique, it is possible that this pedestal and its pair (Museum no. 1025A-1882) were actually made in Boulle's workshop.

When these pedestals were conserved in 1970, a small sheet of paper was found, used as packing under the top of one of them, which carried some words in French and the date 1693.


object details
Category
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Pedestal
  • Frieze and Top of Pedestal
Materials and Techniques
Carcase of pine; veneered with tortoiseshell, horn with blue pigment behind, engraved brass and pewter; gilt bronze mounts
Brief Description
One of a pair of pedestals; carcase of pine veneered with tortoiseshell, horn with blue pigment behind, engraved brass & pewter; gilt bronze mounts; attributed to André Charles Boulle (1642 - 1732); Paris, France, ca.1690.
Physical Description
One of a pair of pedestals, with carcase of pine veneered with boulle marquetry of tortoiseshell, engraved brass and pewter, and horn set against a blue ground, the pedestals set with gilt bronze mounts.



Each pedestal is of tapering, square-sectioned form, raised on a slightly larger, attached plinth, the sides and front of the plinth cut on the lower edge with an ogee arch, the front spandrels of the arches set with panels of scrolling boulle marquetry, and the lower edges of the arches resting on turned feet, the upper part of the feet wider and down-turned like mushrooms, the top surface reeded. The top edge of the plinth is set with a gadrooned moulding in gilt bronze and the sides and front of the main shaft show sunk panels of boulle marquetry of symmetrical scrolls, edged with upright leaf moulding in gilt bronze. The tortoiseshell areas of the boulle marquetry are coated on the reverse with a dark brown pigment. At the top of the shaft the sides and front are set with a satyr mask in gilt bronze. An out-curving frieze section above is set with a trygliph mount in the centre of each side and the front, the boulle sections of these of horn over blue colouring, while the corners are set with upright acanthus leaf mounts. Above this, the edge of the top is moulded in an ovolo section, outset from the frieze. The top edge of the ovolo is veneered with brass and tortoiseshell in a pattern of repeating, upright leaves, the corners mounted with foliage mounts in gilt bronze. The top of the plinth rises behind this moulding, as a shallow, ebonised plinth.



The boulle marquetry on this plinth and its pair, 1025a-1882, differ very slightly in detail. For instance, the central rosette on the front on 1025-1882 is of brass, whereas on 1025a-1882 is of pewter, while the boulle marquetry on the ovolo edges is in première partie on 1025-1882 and in contre partie on 1025a-1882. In places the marquetry is attached with brass pins, from older repairs.
Dimensions
  • Height: 1330mm
  • Width: 420mm
  • Depth: 380mm
Marks and Inscriptions
'1693' (Under the top of 1025-1882 four fragments from the same small sheet of paper were discovered in December 1969, used as packing in one of the holes in the under top. On this were a sketch of a figure in ink, what look like some lines of poetry in French and the date 1693.)
Gallery Label
  • Pair of pedestals 1684 These pedestals are extremely rare survivals, probably from a set of nine made for a mirrored room at Versailles. They would have been placed at intervals round the walls of the room, with vases or bronzes displayed on top. The room was decorated for the king's heir, the Grand Dauphin, and the blue in the pedestals is a subtle allusion to the blue associated with royalty. France (Paris) Probably by André-Charles Boulle Softwood with walnut and oak, veneered with ebony; marquetry in turtle shell, inlaid with brass, pewter and blue-coloured horn; gilded copper alloy mounts(2015)
  • [Label text by Peter Thornton] Pair of Pedestals French (Paris); about 1690 Pine veneered with tortoiseshell, and engraved brass and pewter. Gilt bronze mounts. The channels at the top are filled with 'clear' tortoiseshell backed with blue pigment. The masks are modern reproductions copied from originals still on a similar pair of pedestals. When these were restored in 1970, some torn pieces of paper were discovered used as packing under the glued-down top. On the paper was part of a drawing, some unintelligible writing, and the date 1693. Jones Collection Museum No. 1025-1882(ca. 1980)
Credit line
Bequeathed by John Jones
Summary
Furniture made for the grandest interiors in France in the years around 1700 was designed to impress rather than to be comfortable or necessarily useful. Large rooms were furnished with matching sets of tables and candlestands. One of the most fashionable forms of decoration for such furniture was boulle marquetry. In this work, the surface was veneered with ebony and with panels of scrolling marquetry in brass, tortoiseshell and sometimes other materials such as pewter or horn. The technique derived its name from André-Charles Boulle, cabinetmaker to Louis XIV. Although many other makers used this technique, it is possible that this pedestal and its pair (Museum no. 1025A-1882) were actually made in Boulle's workshop.



When these pedestals were conserved in 1970, a small sheet of paper was found, used as packing under the top of one of them, which carried some words in French and the date 1693.
Bibliographic Reference
Elizabeth Miller and Hilary Young, eds., The Arts of Living. Europe 1600-1815. V&A Publishing, 2015. ISBN: 978 1 85177 807 2, illustrated p. 52.
Collection
Accession Number
1025-1882

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record createdApril 27, 2001
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