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Drawing, Elevation of a Writing Desk [Bureau Plat], 1675–1700

This is a Drawing. It is dated 1675–1700 and we acquired it in 1921. Its medium is red chalk on cream laid paper, lined. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

During the first decades of the eighteenth century, the workshop of André-Charles Boulle produced several desks with elaborate marquetry and gilt bronze mounts. Although luxury items, many were produced as non-commissioned pieces, indicating that there was a ready market for this type of furniture. In 1720, one desk with a flat top (bureau plat), now at the Château de Versailles, was made for Philippe II, the Duke of Bourbon. As the regent’s chief architect, Gilles-Marie Oppenord would presumably have been involved in arranging the commission and may have produced this drawing after Boulle’s design for his own records. The summary treatment of the ornament in this chalk drawing prevents it from functioning as a working design drawing, nor does it have the inspired urgency of a preparatory sketch. However, it is precise enough to provide a record of the desk’s graceful silhouette and rich ornaments.

This object was donated by Eleanor Garnier Hewitt and Sarah Cooper Hewitt. It is credited Gift of Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt.

  • Drawing (France)
  • recto: red chalk on white laid paper; verso: black chalk, graphite.
  • 1931-64-242

Its dimensions are

23.6 x 36.1 cm (9 5/16 x 14 3/16 in. )

It has the following markings

Stamp in brown, lower right corner: Lugt suppl. 645b; stamp in brown, lower left verso: Lugt suppl. 457e; stamped on paper affixed to lower right verso: 71 after which is inscribed in pen and black ink: AO Watermark: Heawood #710,714.715, or 716

It is signed

Signed in pen and black ink, lower left: G O [paraph of Gilles-Marie Oppenord

Cite this object as

Drawing, Elevation of a Writing Desk [Bureau Plat], 1675–1700; France; red chalk on cream laid paper, lined; 23.6 x 36.1 cm (9 5/16 x 14 3/16 in. ); Gift of Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt; 1921-22-196

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Drawing, Elevation of a Writing Desk [Bureau Plat], 1675–1700 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=21 May 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>