This gorgeous decorative desk is an antique French Louis XV rosewood and marquetry ‘bureau a cylindre’ from around 1870.
The piece displays stunning floral marquetry with ormolu mounts:
The bureau has a pierced three quarter gallery over three small frieze drawers with a retractable cylinder encasing a fitted interior comprising three small drawers, and a light green leather writing surface. The writing surface can be pulled out to give more writing space:
It has very elegant serpentine legs:
The piece has been lovingly restored in our own workshops and is in excellent condition.
Dimensions in cm:
Height 114cm x Width 81cm x Depth 46cm
Dimensions in inches:
Height 3 feet, 9 inches x Width 2 feet, 8 inches x Depth 1 foot, 6 inches
A Short History of Cylinder Desks
Called ‘cylinder’ after the shape of the top, these type of desks were said to have been invented (or the design commissioned) by the Hapsburg Ambassador to the French court – Wenzel Anton von Kaunitz in the early 1700s. Whatever the facts of the matter, this type of desk design became extremely popular and the French court was soon commissioning cylinder desks or bureau with great enthusiasm. Not to be confused with roll-top desks, which came much later, these desks were always going to be for the rich since they were very expensive to manufacture. This was due to the difficulty of producing wooden cylinder sections that would not buckle or warp over time.
It became so popular that King Louis XV himself commissioned one for his private apartments in 1760. It was finished in 1769 and became very famous – possibly the most famous desk in history – known as the ‘Bureau de Roi’. Highly ornate it was the daily work desk used by both Louis XV and also Louis XVI. It is reputed that the kings kept their most secret papers relating to great matters of state in the desk and that the king carried the only key. Papers related to Louis XVI’s decision to support the American Revolutionaries in 1777 were allegedly kept in the desk. The desk was moved to the Louvre after the French Revolution but finally made its way home, back to the rooms that were once the private apartment of the 18th century kings in the 20th century. The desk can now be admired once more in the great Palace of Versailles.
Still a very popular type of desk today, the one on show here is of a particularly fine design and will grace any room you care to put it in.