King's cabinet maker

André Charles Boulle is known for his furniture and the technique with which he applied their decoration. He was the first to apply gilded bronze in cabinet making and to use motifs of different materials in positive and negative, a technique that bears his name today. The French king Louis XIV allowed Boulle to set up his workshop in the Louvre, alongside the best artists and craftsmen in France. Many wonders can be seen at the Palace of Versailles thanks to royal commissions. Several European kings also fell under the spell of Boulle's work, such as Philip V of Spain and Maximilian-Emmanuel of Bavaria.

Examples of furniture made by Boulle and his workshop

"Boulle marquetry"

André Charles Boulle and his workshop make their creations with precious materials such as ebony, mother-of-pearl, precious stones, tortoise shell, brass, lapis lazuli, and gilt bronze. The technique of decoration and ornamentation consists of cutting the same pattern together on two superimposed "sheets" of contrasting materials such as

Portrait of André Charles Boulle

brass and tortoise shell. In this way, the same pattern is obtained in negative and positive, which can be applied to the cut sheets. This technique saves material and allows for contrasts to be played with. This technique, known as "Boulle marquetry", revolutionised the way in which cabinetmaking was practised. Moreover, the introduction of gilded bronze sculptures on furniture has two advantages: it contributes to the richness and ornamentation of the furniture and protects the most sensitive parts (handles, corners, feet, etc.).

The perfect piece of furniture

Thus, for André Charles Boulle, a perfect piece of furniture is practical, solid, beautiful, and rich. Even today, the quality of his creations is much admired.

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