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Antiques PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

André-Charles Boulle Exhibition at the Museum of Decorative Arts of Frankfurt

The first ever retrospective about André-Charles Boulle, the most illustrious cabinetmaker of all time, opened on October 28. With a scenography by Juan Pablo Molyneux, it takes place in the Museum of Decorative Arts of Frankfurt, the emblematic building created by Richard Meier. It was conceived by two French art historians, Jean Nérée Ronfort and Jean Dominique Augarde, in close cooperation with Professor Ulrich Schneider, director of the Museum für Angewandte Kunst (Museum of Decorative Arts) of Frankfort.

Even before he was 30 years old, the name of André-Charles Boulle (1642-1732), Founder, Chaser, Gilder, Sculptor and Marqueter Ordinary to the King, was famous throughout Europe. In 1672 Louis XIV granted him a workshop inside the Louvre palace. His totally innovative genius in the concept of forms is paired with an unheard of virtuosity in the use of gilt bronze, which he was the first to unite with marquetry on a background of tortoiseshell. His creations were the absolute summit of opulence and elegance, combining extraordinary forms with materials verging on the precious, and a technical excellence never achieved again since.

He worked for the Queen, the King, the Grand Dauphin and for the princes of the royal family. Eminent bankers of the kingdom vied for his works to furnish their mansions on the Place Vendome. The Princes Electors of Saxony, Bavaria and Cologne, the King of Spain, were among his clients.

Displayed today in the greatest museums of the world, and symbols since three centuries of financial and social success, André Charles Boulle’s furniture is inseparable from other expressions of French art avidly sought after by the foremost European courts at the time of the Sun King.

The exhibition « André Charles Boulle (1642-1732) and the Art of his Time, A new Style for Europe » is the fruit of the combined expertise of a French group, The Association André-Charles Boulle and the Museum für Angewandte Kunst (Museum of Decorative Arts) of Frankfurt hosts this event unique of its kind. Most of the works are shown for the first time, and some have never before left the countries where they are conserved. This is the case for the loans from the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, the Mobilier National in Paris, the Château of Versailles et des Trianons, the Banque de France, the Castle of Mannheim, the Museum of Fine Arts of Boston, the Swedish Royal Collection, and other major cultural institutions. In all, nearly thirty international museums whose names bring to mind the treasures of Western civilisation, and a few eminent private collectors, from seven countries (France, Germany, Great Britain, Slovenia, Sweden, Russia, and the United States of America) will have permitted the coming together of these masterpieces. Through their loans they reveal to the public an unprecedented image of a decisive evolution of Western art.

The exhibition assembles some sixty exceptional pieces in floral marquetry, in tortoiseshell and brass marquetry or gilt bronze, witnesses to André-Charles Boulle’s talent. Displayed side by side with bronzes, tapestries and paintings, they illustrate the cultural beacon that was Paris at that time, and the genesis of a new European aesthetic. A rare collection of original drawings by André-Charles Boulle’s contemporaries from the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris and Berlin will complete this ensemble. The Manufacture des Gobelins, founded by Louis XIV in 1662, which has since become the Mobilier National, will also exhibit its latest works by the most committed contemporary designers, from Le Corbusier to the brothers Bouroullec, furniture and tapestries symbols of its continuity of creation.