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André-Charles Boulle (1642-1732)

André-Charles Boulle was furniture-maker, gilder and sculptor to Louis XIV of France (1638–1715). His outstanding ability to inlay furniture with pictorial marquetry in wood, and later elaborate tortoiseshell and brass inlays, gave the technique its name: 'boulle'. Fashionable in his own time, Boulle's creations were also heavily imitated during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Royal Collection today contains several magnificent pieces from his workshop, as well as numerous examples of inlay in his style.

Most of the furniture in the Collection by or attributed to Boulle was acquired by George IV (1762–1830). An extravagant Francophile, the king furnished the royal palaces with large quantities of fashionable French furniture from the 1780s until his death. Among them was an outstanding wardrobe by Boulle (RCIN 21642), which combined intricate marquetry with finely modelled gilt-bronze mounts. The wardrobe was installed on the Grand Corridor at Windsor Castle with another of similarly large scale (RCIN 21630). They remain there to this day.

Born in 1642, Boulle studied painting, drawing and sculpture as a young man, and soon established a reputation as the finest furniture designer in Paris. In 1672, he was appointed royal cabinetmaker by Louis XIV and from that time enjoyed workshops and lodgings in the Galeries du Louvre. There, he designed and made much of the furniture for the royal palaces, especially Versailles. On his retirement, Boulle left his studio to his four sons, but he returned to work after a fire in 1720 caused considerable losses. He died in 1732.


Objects associated with André-Charles Boulle (1642-1732)