A Mazarin desk
Height : 77 cm (30 1/3 in.) ; Length : 153 cm (60 1/4 in.) ; Depth : 84 cm (33 in.)
This important Mazarin desk veneered with a “Boulle” marquetry made of red tortoiseshell, copper and tin opens at the front with seven drawers and one door. It stands on two sets of drawers laying on four feet gathered by a stretcher and adorned with lion feet. The top is richly decorated with arabesques inspired by the drawings of Jean Ier Berain (ornemanist, « dessinateur de la chambre et du cabinet du roi », 1640-1711) and presents mythological characters under a canopy at the centre. They are surrounded with monkeys and highlighted by a dazzling red ground made of tortoiseshell. The front and the sides show arabesques adorned with birds and small masks as well as characters playing games.
The “Mazarin” shape appeared at the end of the 17th century, firstly adorned with a wooden floral marquetry (Pierre Gole, c.1620-1685), then with a marquetry made of tortoiseshell, copper and sometimes tin (André Charles Boulle, 1642-1732), as our piece of furniture witnesses. Their numerous drawers and the withdrawn central part allowed for a comfortable use of this kind of desks. However, they were also considered as ceremonial pieces of furniture since the marquetry decorates all sides of the desk with an important part given to the arabesques. During the 19th century, “Boulle” marquetry was very much appreciated by collectors and was reused by cabinet-makers such as Befort Jeune (1813-1880), Joseph Cremer (1811-1878) or Monbro Aîné (1807-1884).