Originally, this desk was twenty inches longer and five inches deeper, and its eight legs were linked with stretchers (four together on each side). André-Charles Boulle invented the model in the early 1690s, producing only a few pieces with turtle shell and brass marquetry. The decorative pattern here—in turtle shell with brass background—is known as contre-partie marquetry. Boulle’s furniture continued to be appreciated throughout the eighteenth century. In the early 1770s, the cabinetmaker Etienne Levasseur modified the desk for its new owner, probably the famous art dealer Claude Julliot, who owned the altered version by 1777. The alteration included cutting the marquetry panels, therefore removing an important part of Boulle’s work. However, Levasseur retained Boulle’s large gilt-bronze mounts in the shape of Indian heads.
Source: Vignon, Charlotte. The Frick Collection Decorative Arts Handbook. New York: The Frick Collection/Scala, 2015.