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Since the 17th Century, the luxurious effect of Boulle marquetry has had an enduring appeal. First exploited as a technique by André-Charles Boulle in his work for the French Court during the reign of Louis XIV, the technique has always been associated with the most opulent and expensive designs. Boulle, himself a bronzier, pioneered the use of the exceptionally fine and bold gilt-bronze mounts that give so many pieces such sculptural presence and classical association. But in the first decades of the 18th century, although still exploiting the rich contrast of the black of the ebony, the gold of gilded-bronze and brass, silver-toned pewter and often red-coloured tortoiseshell in the marquetry, Boulle introduced the light, playful designs of the dessinateur de la Chambre et du Cabinet du Roi, Jean Bérain. Now, the decorative surfaces were enlivened with the small-scale, lacy designs of playful singeries, garlands of flowers and airy architectural fantasies, all held together within delicate bandwork.
During his own lifetime, Boulle was commissioned to make replicas of some of the great pieces made for both the King and Court, sometimes only slightly altering the designs. Although there was a slight lull in popularity at the peak of the Rococo, Boulle marquetry was again at the height of fashion in the time of Louis XVI.
The taste among the great collectors for the styles of 'all the Louis' of course continued throughout the 19th century, and Boulle-style furniture held its popularity and prestige. Important makers, such as Dasson and Jeandon in France, and Blake in England, turned their attraction to copying or adapting the great pieces of the past, often speculatively but also frequently commissioned by the likes of the Rothschilds, the Marquess of Hertford or Henry Clay Frick. Many of these 19th century pieces took their places comfortably side by side with their predecessors from the 17th and 18th centuries in great houses such as Mentmore Towers.