A bureau by André-Charles Boulle dating to 1710 serves as the prototype for this impressively-scaled bureau plat, which Alexandre Pradère once described as 'un bureau de boule le tout de première partie, sur un fond bleu'. While there are obvious differences to the stretchers and number of legs between the present lot and the original, its general design, distinctive blue backgrounds provide a compelling model. Even more pertinent to the Huntington bureau plat is an identical desk formerly in the collections of the Earls of Rosebery at Mentmore, sold Sotheby's, 18-20 May, 1977, lot 857, which one might speculate was supplied by the same anonymous workshop.
Few pieces of French Furniture in America can sum up the Gilded Age so spectacularly as the present lot. The scale, decoration and color - together with crowned 'H' - all make it an iconic example of the decorative arts which illustrate this legendary age of American collecting. Archer Huntington (1870-1955), the son and stepson of the celebrated collectors and philanthropists Arabella Huntington and Collis P. Huntington, was himself a major collector and benefactor. His collections were of staggering size and quality - even by Gilded Age standards - and were more than enough to fill the magnificent complex of buildings he commissioned from his cousin Charles Pratt Huntington, along with other Gilded Age architects Cass Gilbert and McKim, Mead and White.