Master of Ornament: André Charles Boulle

November 25th, 2011 | posted by Lyndon Lasiter

Boulle Régence-Period Ormolu Candelabra

André Charles Boulle is considered one of the most important and talented French cabinet-makers of all time. He mastered the technique of marquetry using brass and tortoise shell inlay on his elegant cabinets. Furthermore, the majority of his work was owned and cherished by one of the most discerning and important historical figures, Louis XIV. Although Boulle is known for his cabinet work, he was also quite prolific in making doré bronze lighting fixtures that exude the luxurious aesthetic of Louis XIV.

This particular set of candelabra (circa 1715-20) is a prime example of early Rococo style. In a close study of the candelabra’s stems and arms, cast from acanthus, we find scrolling foliage, strapwork, bearded masks, while the pierced tripod base is cast with masks and seated putti. Additionally, these candelabra were owned by Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild, the British banker and politician from the important international banking family making them even more significant.

Boulle utilized the ormolu technique to bond gold to bronze in both his lighting fixtures and his furniture. The highly toxic process involved heating mercury to very high temperatures in order for the gold to bond to the bronze. Unlike most gilders who utilize this technique, Boulle lived to be 90 years old!

Like so many other artistic geniuses, Boulle’s creations have been copied by many other artisans, to satisfy the demand for his style. To own one of these is a great find for any collector. However, in the case of this rare pair of Régence-period, four-light candelabra, we are confident in attributing them to Boulle himself.

Though we are accustomed to offering our clients the rarest and finest of all antiques, fine art and estate jewelry, this magnificent pair of candelabra is a first even for our internationally renowned gallery. To see more Boulle and Boulle-inspired work, click here.

Boulle Régence-Period Ormolu Candelabra

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