Boudoir table

Émile Reiber (1826-1893), designer
Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse (1824-1887), sculptor
Gustave-Joseph Chéret (1838-1894) sculptor
Christofle Company, manufacturer
Paris, 1867
Presented at the Paris World’s Fairs of 1867 and 1900
Mahogany, bronze, silver-gilt, lapis-lazuli, jasper, silver
Gift of Alfred and Jacques Pereire in memory of their grandparents, Émile and Isaac Pereire, and their parents, M. and Mme Gustave Pereire, 1938
Inv. 33777
© Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris / photo: Jean Tholance

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This boudoir table and the works displayed nearby show the influence of the Louis XVI style on the decorative arts of the 1850s-1860s. The table, presented in the center of the Christofle Company’s stand at the World’s Fair in 1867, originally had an oval mirror on its top.

The top is decorated with gemstone marquetry bordered by silver and silver-gilt flowers. An openwork gallery runs along the rear edge. The lapis-lazuli drawer in the apron is covered with garlands of myrtle intertwined with strings of pearls, a flaming torch and an arrow, and the lock is adorned with two putti placing a garland of flowers on a vase. The front legs of the table are formed by two caryatids holding baskets of flowers.

The form and decoration of this boudoir table were inspired by a small desk delivered to Marie Antoinette in 1784 by the cabinetmaker Adam Weisweiler. It represents an overt expression of the influence of the Louis XVI style, restored to popularity during the Second Empire by Empress Eugénie. But although the Christofle Company looked to the past for the style of the table, it is a resolutely modern piece that illustrates the company’s expertise in bronze working, which was taking over from cabinetmaking at that time.

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