Antique Neoclassical Louis XVI Style Roll Top Desk by Gervais Durand
French, late 19th Century
Dimensions: Height 107cm, width 114cm, depth 64cm
Beautifully crafted from mahogany and ormolu, this desk was designed in the Neoclassical Louis XVI style, after the model by celebrated 18th Century cabinetmaker Jean-Henri Riesener (1734-1806).
The desk is supported by four square profile tapered legs, the corners of which are decorated with a beaded ormolu rim. The apron of the desk is similarly decorated, with beaded borders around the edge of a pair of drawers, the centre of which features an ornate scrolling ormolu design with handles over a lattice parquetry pattern. The centre of the apron features an ormolu frieze of cherubs, a version of which is replicated on either side of the desk.
The desk section itself is of classic roll-top design, the front of which features an ormolu border surrounding a lattice parquetry pattern. The centre of the front is decorated with a beautiful marquetry design of flowers, a lyre, quill and ink, parchment, books, and a flute: a celebration of the arts and culture, which Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette were known to promote. The marquetry design is crafted from exotic woods such as fruitwood, tulipwood and amaranth, and is surrounded by an oval ormolu frame, decorated with floral garlands and a bow to the top. The very top of the desk is flat, with a pierced ormolu gallery.
Inside, the desk top rolls upwards to reveal a sliding leather writing desk. At the back, there are five pigeonhole sections, and four flanking drawers (two either side) with ormolu handles.
The original model by Riesener is a famous example of Louis XVI furniture, and was made for Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, in 1784. She used it in her apartments at the Chemin des Tuileries, and it is now displayed at the Louvre in Paris.
The desk is stamped with the signature ‘G. Durand’ for the cabinetmaker Gervais Durand (1839-c. 1920). He was a successful Parisian carpenter and draughtsman, and his firm Durand et Fils (1890-1934) specialised in creating beautiful copies of the great 18th Century designers.