ANDRÉ-CHARLES BOULLE

Back

A0504_1

ANDRÉ-CHARLES BOULLE

By Anita Simon

Although Boulle was born and died in Paris, his name was of German origin. His father, Jean Boulle | Johan Bolt, had been born in the Duchy of Guelders in the Netherlands.

Like his father, he became a ‘menuisier en ebene’, but his expertise made him the most famous of his family, becoming a ‘maitre’ (master) before 1666. By the age of 30 he had been granted lodgings in the Louvre on the recommendation of Louis XIV’s minister of the arts, Jean- Baptiste Colbert. This was a royal privilege for the most favoured in the profession, but Boulle was also given the title of ‘Ébéniste, Ciseleur, Doreur et Sculpteur du Roi’ (Cabinet Maker, Chaser/Carver, Gilder and Sculptor to the King’) which allowed him to work at all these skills without interference from the trade guilds. (According to his records of sales, Boulle was also a painter).

Boulle had many commissions, not only from the king, but also from foreign princes and wealthy French patrons. He worked from 1682-6 on the Dauphin’s apartments at Versailles, producing masterful gilt mirrors, parquetry, inlaid panelling and furniture marquetry. His oeuvre includes commodes, bureaux, armoires, pedestals, clock cases and lighting fixtures. These objects characteristically display beautiful gilt-bronze mounts, which were cast in the rough so that the chaser could provide their fine, sharp detail and jewel-like finish. Pieces from the Boulle workshops were not stamped, but many works in the 18th century in his style were also given the name Boulle or Buhl. The name ‘Buhl’ was invented by a British furniture maker/auctioneer referring to Boulle’s characteristic style. Despite his great fame, skill and financial success, Boulle was continually troubled by debt. He was a passionate collector of works of art and this negatively affected his already poor business practices. His situation was further strained by a fire in 1720 which destroyed 20 of his benches, his tools, models, materials and, tragically, some of his finished work.

Boulle’s renown is due to the consummate art of his marquetry, not only his exquisite floral designs in wood, but also his extraordinary skill and control in using inlays of brass or pewter with ebony or tortoiseshell. He placed gold leaf, et cetera, under the tortoiseshell for effect. He decorated brass work with chasing. Metals and chasing covered his making, protected corners, edges and feet, and provided fine decoration.

At a time of great craftsmanship, when glorious works were being created for the ’Sun King’, Boulle continually improved and refined his techniques and was considered to be one of the foremost craftsmen of his day.

‘Boulle style’ tea caddy, England, circa 1795-1810 Boulle work (pine, oak veneer, ebony, brass, tortoiseshell, gilt bronze) 210 x 294 x 170 mm The Johnston Collection (A0504-1989)


This article was first published in fairhall, Issue 10, November 2013, pp 18.

Back to TJC Journal

Journals

By Irene Villis


By Denise Farmery


By Irene Villis


By Julie Thompson


By Dorothy Morgan


By Charles French


By Ken Barnes


By Louise Voll Box


By Denise Farmery


By Peter McNeil


By Rose Madder


By Rose Madder


By Rose Madder


By Louise Voll Box


By Jocelyn Ng


By Diana English


By Vivien Knowles


By Eugene Barilo von Reisberg


By Susan Williams


By Eugene Barilo von Reisberg



By Donna Jones


By Claire Regnault


By Irene Villis


By Judith Heaven


By Claire Regnault


By Charles French


By Dani Balmford


By Charles French


By Marguerite Bell



By Rose Madder


By Rosemary Ramage


By Suzanne Katz


By Marguerite Bell


By Wendy Babiolakis


By Deidre Basham


By Dorothy Morgan


By Anne Glynn


By Rosemary Ramage


By Anita Simon



© 2018 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Website by MODD
Accredited_Museum_grey_small
ACNC Registered Charity Tick