Desk (Bureau Mazarin), France, about 1700. Pine and oak veneered with tortoiseshell and brass marquetry, ebony, and walnut marquetry; pewter and gilt bronze; 31⅞ × 51⅛ × 29½ in. Denver Art Museum: Funds provided by the Mabel Y. Hughes Charitable Trust, 2005.10.
The bureau Mazarin is one of the earliest French desk forms and features drawers on either side of a kneehole opening. During the 1800s, connoisseurs named this design after Cardinal Jules Mazarin (1602–1661), an influential adviser to King Louis XIV, although the form did not come into fashion until the 1670s. Lavish case pieces such as this displayed the skill of French cabinetmakers and reflected the splendor of the French court. With the exception of the back, the desk’s surfaces are finished with a thin layer of brass and red-stained tortoiseshell. This marquetry technique became popular among French aristocrats during the late 1600s and was later named after master artisan André-Charles Boulle (1642–1732), who perfected its use.
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