Two Coffers on Stands

Object Details


Two Coffers on Stands


Attributed to André-Charles Boulle (French, 1642 - 1732, master before 1666)




Paris, France (Place created)


about 1684 - 1689


Oak, cypress, and walnut veneered with tortoise shell, blue-painted horn, ebony, padouk, rosewood, pewter, and brass; gilt-bronze mounts; mirror glass

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Intended to hold jewels or small precious items, the interiors of this pair of coffers are lined with tortoiseshell and brass or pewter, with secret compartments in the base. The coffers are each decorated using techniques known as première partie marquetry, a pattern of brass and pewter on a tortoiseshell ground, and its reverse, contrepartie, a tortoiseshell pattern on a background of pewter and brass.When lowered on their hinges, the wide gilt bronze straps on the coffer fronts and sides reveal three small drawers for rings. Each coffer also has a lid that opens in two sections. The upper lid reveals a shallow compartment, while the main lid lifts to reveal the interior of the coffer.

The 1689 inventory of the Grand Dauphin, the oldest son of Louis XIV, lists a jewel coffer of similar form and decoration; according to this inventory, André-Charles Boulle made the coffer. The two stands are of the same date as the coffers, but were originally designed to hold rectangular cabinets. One stand was adapted in the late 1700s or early 1800s to make it the same height as the other.