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Knee-Hole Desk Attributed to Pierre Golle

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Knee-Hole Desk Attributed to Pierre Golle

- Item No.

This desk illustrates Pierre Golle's mastery of fine marquetry

Key Features

  • A rare and exquisite bureau Mazarin knee-hole desk attributed to Pierre Golle
  • The entire surface is covered in the most intricate floral marquetry
  • Golle is credited with introducing the centuries-old technique of marquetry in the late 17th century
  • This desk was once part of the Rothschild/Mentmore Collection at the Mentmore Estate
  • Circa 1680
  • 46 1/2" wide x 27 1/2" deep x 31" high

Item Details

  • Width:
    46 1/2 Inches
  • Height:
    31 Inches
  • Depth:
    27 1/2 Inches
  • Period:
    Pre 18th Century
  • Origin:
    France
This exquisite floral marquetry knee-hole desk, or bureau Mazarin, is attributed to Pierre Golle,  who was the Master Furniture-Maker-in-Ordinary in Ebony to Louis XIV from 1656.  The desk's entire surface is covered with numerous decorative motifs that include scrolling foliage, intertwined strapwork, theatrical masks, birds, butterflies, and plentiful plants and flowers. The writing surface, with a molded gilt bronze edge, features an overflowing bouquet of naturalistic flowers on a table surrounded by beautiful butterflies and birds. Originally a 10th-century Italian process, marquetry was first introduced by Golle in the late 17th century. The technique consists of veneering furniture with various types of woods that are cut and pierced into elaborate floral and curving designs. The minuscule pieces of wood were colored or scorched with hot sand to create subtle gradations of shadow. Today the most splendid and sumptuous specimens by Golle are diminishing in number due to the ravages of time, light exposure, and variations in the atmosphere. With its vivid colors of oranges, reds, yellows, and greens, this impeccably cared for desk is truly a rare find.

Provenance: Rothschild/Mentmore Collection at the Mentmore Estate

Circa 1680

46 1/2" wide x 27 1/2" deep x 31" high

Formerly under the employ of Cardinal Mazarin, for whom this desk is named, Golle was the originator of marquetry of tortoiseshell and brass named for and so often associated with his son-in-law, André-Charles Boulle. From 1662, he supplied marquetry cabinets to the King and the Grand Dauphin at Versailles and other royal chteaux, the most expensive of which were several cabinets delivered at the outstanding sum of 6000 livres a piece. He also created a marquetry floor for the Grand Dauphin's Cabinet Doré, which has since been destroyed,  for an incredible 7500 livres. Through his son Corneille, who emigrated to England in 1685, Golle's designs influenced Gerrit Jensen who worked in London, supplying marquetry furniture to the court of William and Mary.    

A similar André-Charles Boulle Knee-hole Desk is housed at Carnegie Museum of Art, with another similar desk as illustrated in Mark Bridge's An Encyclopedia of Desks (1988, p. 18).

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Price: $748,500
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