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Circa 1700, by André-Charles Boulle
Inlaid en première partie, the rounded rectangular breakfront top covered with later gilt-tooled leather, the ormolu rim cast with egg-and-dart, the panelled frieze with recessed shaped oak-lined drawer decorated with foliate scrolls and centered by an Apollo mask within a channelled molding, the rounded angles and sides with conforming decoration, on four hipped cabriole legs headed by satyr-masks and with conforming inlaid decoration, with tapering scrolled sabots, flanked by two tapering column legs headed by acanthus-scrolled mounts, on spirally-turned tapering feet, the back with conforming Boulle marquetry decoration, joined by shaped pierced stretchers with further floral marquetry and brass rim and centered by a stepped circular domed plinth
30½in. (77.5cm.) high, 47½in. (120.5cm.) wide, 19¾in. (49cm.) deep
Possibly acquired by John Tylney Child, 2nd Earl Tylney of Castlemaine (d.1784) for Wanstead House, Essex.
Thence by descent at Wanstead through his nephew Sir James Long, Bt. (d.1794) to his daughter Catherine (d.1825), who in 1812 married the Hon. William Pole Tylney-Long-Wellesley, later 4th Earl of Mornington (d.1857) and sold by Mr. Robins, Wanstead house sale, 10 June 1822 and 31 following days, thirteenth day's sale, 26 June 1822, lot 24.
Almost certainly acquired by George Byng M.P. (d.1847), for Wrotham Park, Hertfordshire, circa 1820-30.
Thence by descent to Julian Byng, Esq., sold Christie's London, 10 June 1993, lot 15 (£177,500; $268,025).
P. Hughes, The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Furniture, London, 1996, Vol. II, p.757.
F.M. Ricci, Quelques chefs-d'oeuvre de La Collection Djahanguir Riahi, Paris, 2000, pp.46-51 (illustrated).
Special Notice

This lot has no reserve.
Notice Regarding the Sale of Ivory and Tortoiseshell Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing ivory or tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.

Lot Essay

André-Charles Boulle, appointed Ebéniste, Ciseleur, Doreur et
Sculpteur du Roi
in 1672.

It would appear that this table en bureau is perhaps the sole example in private hands to survive in its entirety since the 18th Century. Placed in the middle of the room, its concave-fronted stretcher providing room to place one's feet, the reverse of the frieze decorated with marquetry and the top with an embossed leather wrting-surface, this table en bureau was invented circa 1700 and became the prototype for Boulle's marquetry bureaux plats.

Only two other tables en bureau are recorded:-
-the first, formerly in the collection of Jules Strauss, was mentioned by A. Theunissen in Meubles et Sièges, Paris 1933, p.59. This table had traces of Boulle marquetry to the reverse and a later marble top.
-the second, with a leather top, is now in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum and is illustrated in Kurfürst Max Emmanuel, Munich, 1976, p.179. This table en bureau was originally at the Residenz, Munich and is discussed in B. Langer, Die Möbel der Residenz, Munich, 1995, Vol.1, pp 254-6.

This latter table was already recorded in the Residenz, Munich by 1769, when it was listed in the Inventory of the appartements of the Kaiserin Marie Amélie (1701-1756), widow of the Kurfürst Carl Albrecht, who ruled as Kaiser from 1742-45. It was described as I Schreib Tisch mit 6 füssen von Schwarzem Ebenholz, so mit Messing und Schilt Krott eingelegt und mit einer verspörten Schublade versehen ist, die ganze garnirung und einfassung ist von Bronze d'orée und das blat mit schwarzem Cordobonenen Leeder bezogen. Unten, und zwar zwischen denen 6 füessen, stehet eine Vasa von Bronze d'orée, welche mit Carniol garnirt ist.

It is important to note that by 1769, the leather top is already recorded and that the table is described as a bureau (' Schreibtisch') and not as a 'Konsoltisch'.


In de Furetière's Dictionaire of 1684, a 'bureau' est aussi une table garni de quelques tiroirs ou tablettes où les gens d'affaires ou d'étude écrivent et mettent leurs papiers.

In the Déclaration somptuaire d'André-Charles Boulle of 1700, deux bureaux de marqueterie, ornements de cuivre doré, quatre bureaux de marqueterie avec ornements de cuivre doré are listed, and this proves beyond doubt that at least two different models were already in production at this time.

In 1720, in the terrible fire that ravaged the atelier of the ébéniste, douze tables d'environ quatre pieds de long were destroyed - and not one console is mentionned in the Acte de Délaisement of 1715, where as deux tables pareilles à celles de Mrs Bourvallais et Grouin en bois blanc avec quelques bandes et filets et autres modelles....300 livres are described.

Amongst the engravings published by Mariette after 1707, this model of table encased by a border on all four sides is called a grande table.

In 1727, the Inventory drawn up following the death of Paulin Pondre records deux petits bureaux d'ébéne à marqueterie de cuivre à un tiroir sur leur pied de pareille marqueterie d'écaille avec les tapis de maroquin couleur citron 400 livres. Whether these were in fact tables, consoles or bureaux remains tantalisingly unclear owing to the terminology employed. This hypothesis is further reinforced by the same Inventory, in which deux petites tables en bureau de marbre portor, 118cm. wide are described and these would appear to be what we would now describe as consoles.
Interestingly, the celebrated commodes by Boulle delivered to Louis XIV for the Grand Trianon in 1708 were then also described as 'bureaux.


This table en bureau was almost certainly acquired by George Byng (d.1847) for the enlarged State Rooms at Wrotham Park, Hertfordshire. Designed circa 1754 by Isaac Ware (d.1766) for that unfortunate victim of 'Judicial murder' Admiral John Byng (d.1757), Wrotham was inherited by the 'neither learned, eloquent or profound' (Gentleman's Magazine, 1847, p.309) George Byng on the death of his father in 1789. This harsh dismissal of the Father of the House and Whig Member of Parliament for Middlesex, a tenure which he held for fifty-six years, does not fairly reflect this connoisseur's broad though selective taste. Following the 1811 improvements, whereby the wings flanking Ware's central block were raised to provide further State Rooms, Byng proceeded to enrich the furnishings of the house in the French taste. The predominance of 'Buhl' furniture, as well as Louis XV and Louis XVI ormolu-mounted objets, typified the fashionable 'goût' expounded by the marchand-mercier Edward Holmes Baldock (d.1854). Patronised by George IV, Purveyor of China, Earthenware and Glass to William IV (1832-37) and Purveyor of China to Queen Victoria (1838-45), Baldock was responsible for the formation of many of the great early 19th Century collections of French furniture, including those of the Dukes of Buccleuch and Northumberland and William Beckford, and it is highly probable that this table en bureau was supplied by him.
Certainly the remarkable picture collection clearly reveals that Byng was a connoisseur of considerable merit who was prepared to pay high prices for top quality pieces. These characteristics are shared by Baldock's principal clients and are reflected in the furnishings acquired by Byng at such great sales as Fonthill and Wanstead, Essex in 1822 and from the Duke of York's Collection (Christie's London, 5 April 1827), for Wrotham up until his death in 1847.
Byng appears to have had a particular predilection for 'Buhl' furniture and it is particularly interesting to note therefore that, on the thirteenth day of the Wanstead sale (26 June 1822) held by Mr. Robins lot 24 was described as:-
A COSTLY ANTIQUE BUHL AND TORTOISE-SHELL PARISIAN PIER TABLE, with three drawers in the frame, and ornamental rail shelf under, with or-moulu tripod frame, vase in the centre, elegantly mounted with rich chased mouldings, &c. on six legs, and twisted shell feet, 3-feet-11 wide.
The absence in the description of any mention of a marquetry top is uncharacteristic of the Wanstead sale's thorough cataloguing, and this would suggest that the top was either plain or of leather. For further information on Wanstead, please see lot 40.

A briefer description which could conceivably have been identified with the Wrotham table appears in the Stowe sale held by Christie's, 15 August 1848 and the following thirty-seven days, eighth day's sale, lot 999:- A BEAUTIFUL PIER TABLE OF BUHL, of the very finest period, with masks of satyrs, and other decorations of or-moulu. However, the Stowe sale not only post-dates the known collector within the family, but this table en bureau was certainly at Wrotham by the 1840's, as it is illustrated in situ in the Saloon in a watercolour by the Hon. E. Townshend, which remains at Wrotham.


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