Today, I have the pleasure to introduce you a very early example of a French desk, the “bureau Mazarin.”
This desk was named after the Cardinal Mazarin, regent of France from 1642 to 1661. It was, in fact, originally created 10 years later. Mazarin did hire Pierre Gole to create two grand cabinets to donate to Louis XIV’s palace, however, what later became known as the “Bureau Mazarin” was an earlier request from King Henri IV for a piece of furniture that would provide ample locked storage space.
Given the importance of letter-writing in the 17th century, Gole decided to create a three drawer cabinet, an early rendition of what would later become the common pedestal desk. Essentially an elevated chest, Gole had created something entirely new. The piece had the functionality of a writing surface, equipped with drawers and locked storage space. The particular desk was raised by eight legs joined by two “x” shaped stretchers, giving the piece an elegant architectural feel.
Pierre Gole, originally from Amsterdam, was known for his ambitious and intricate marquetry, inspired by the floral still life tradition in Dutch paintings of the 17th century. In order to achieve this affect, he used countless types of woods for the inlay, including ebony, boxwood, barberry, various shades of walnut, amaranth, and pear, among many others. Today cabinet makers typically utilize only a handful of woods, instead staining them to achieve a variety of shades. Upon close inspection of this desk, it is intriguing to observe the grains and textures that each type of wood contributes to the overall design.
The top of the desk is a great example of his talent and reveals some of the legendary Jasmine design of inlaid ivory flowers, which is the mark of the highest quality works. It is particularly difficult to incorporate ivory into marquetry because it shrinks at a different rate than wood, so it must be executed absolutely perfectly in order to stand the test of time! We are proud to offer this museum piece for sale and would love to share its history and grace with you.