Christened by his contemporaries as "the most skillful artisan in Paris," André-Charles Boulle's (11 Nov. 1642 - 28 Feb. 1732) name is synonymous with the practice of veneering furniture with marquetry (inlay) of tortoiseshell, pewter, and brass. Although he did not invent the technique, Boulle was its greatest practitioner and lent his name to its common name: boulle work. Boulle also specialized in floral marquetry in both stained and naturally colored wood.
Before Boulle was awarded the title of master cabinetmaker; in 1672 he was appointed court artist by the king and was granted the royal privilege of lodging in the Palais du Louvre. In the same year, he achieved the title of cabinetmaker and sculptor to Louis XIV, king of France. This new title allowed him to produce furniture as well as works in gilt bronze such as chandeliers, wall lights, and mounts. Although strict guild rules usually prevented craftsmen from practicing two professions simultaneously, Boulle's favored position allowed him protected status and exempted him from these statutes. In the eighteenth century Boulle marquetry was famous. Even in the nineteenth century, designs from Boulle's workshop were still being copied. Today many of his works can be found in museums around the world.
I can easily say that I absolutely adore boulle pieces. They are at the same time quite delicate and surprisingly masculine. I have only had the pleasure of seeing a few pieces in person but each was breathtaking in its own right. What follows are some of my favorite images of Monsieur Boulle's brilliance.
Stunning isn't it? I hope you have enjoyed these pieces as much as I have selecting them for you. There is a wealth of information about Boulle his work and his influence out there so if you are interested please go forth and learn.