provenance: A. Wertheimer collection. Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian from this sale at Christie’s, London, June 16th, 1920.
description: Large armoire with two doors decorated with high relief bronzes showing mythological scenes based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, marquetry with arabesques and naturalist motifs consisting of narrow fillets in brass or pewter on a ground with a tortoiseshell veneer. The centre of the base shows the haloed head of a lion in chased and gilt bronze, symbolising Apollo.
The technique used, which is associated to the artist’s name, involved creating the motifs with superimposed layers in contrasting materials and colours. By making full use of these materials, the artist managed to produce two similar pieces where one was a sort of “negative” of the other.
Boulle’s work, which epitomises the Louis XIV style, adopts an austere Baroque decoration based on lines that were borrowed from classical models. The balance, symmetry and almost imperative rigidity of the forms combine to give the piece an exceptional sense of unity.