Desk (bureau "Mazarin")

Object Details


Desk (bureau "Mazarin")






Paris, France (Place created)


about 1692 - 1700


Fir, veneered with brass, copper, silver, ebony, bone, horn (some painted blue, green, orange, and red, and laid on gold foil), mother-of-pearl, and tortoiseshell; drawers of beech, oak, walnut; silvered-bronze mount; silk velvet; steel key


70.5 × 88.9 × 50.8 cm (27 3/4 × 35 × 20 in.)

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Designed as a showpiece rather than for actual use, nearly the entire surface of this delicate little table is covered with a colorful veneer of various exotic materials, including brass, tortoiseshell, copper, pewter, ebony, ivory, mother-of-pearl, and horn painted red, blue, orange, and green. An elaborate array of objects decorates the surface, including reclining figures, birds, animals, cupids, and vases of fruit and flowers. The feet of the desk are made from brass covered with silver, and silvered tassels hang from the drawers.

The desk was made for Maximilian Emanuel, the Elector of Bavaria, who developed a taste for French furniture when he was exiled in Paris around 1700. The central coat of arms on the top of the desk, beneath an electoral crown, flanked by the standing lions of Bavaria and surrounded by the order of the Golden Fleece, replaced the earlier arms of the Elector. However, the original steel key of this desk survives, decorated with Maximilian Emanuel's monogram and the electoral crown.