Friday, January 1, 1971

André-Charles Boulle b.1642

André-Charles Boulle
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Born in Paris in 1642, André-Charles Boulle came from a family that originally lived in the region of Gueldre, in Holland. His father, who for a long time spelled his name “Jean Bolt,” was himself an ebony joiner, who had set up shop in 1653 in the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève quarter.
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André-Charles Boulle was named master before 1666 as he was called “master joiner in ebony” that year in a notarial deed.
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He lived and practiced his trade on the rue de Reins near the church Saint-Etienne du Mont, as did his parents. He seems to have excelled very early on in his profession, which earned him the granting, in 1672, of lodgings in the gallery of the Louvre by royal privilege. On this occasion, Colbert recommended him to the king as “the most skilled craftsman in Paris in his trade.” That same year, Boulle received a royal warrant from the queen naming him “Cabinetmaker, Chiseler, Gilder and Sculptor to the King.” Boulle could thus take pride in the title of bronze caster as well as cabinetmaker, and he kept up this dual activity throughout his life.
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As a result, he infringed on the guilds’ regulations, which prohibited the simultaneous practice of two professions, but as he was the king’s cabinetmaker and was housed in the Louvre, action could not be taken against him.
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In 1677, Boulle married Anne-Marie Leroux. They had seven children, including the future cabinetmakers Philippe (1678-1744), Pierre Benoît (1680-1741), André-Charles II (1685-1745) and Charles-Joseph (1688-1754). Boulle’s renown would continue to grow.
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Brice wrote about him in 1684: “He creates extraordinarily well-fashioned marquetry works that the curious carefully conserve.” The 1691 “Livre commodes des adresses de Paris” noted: “Boulle produces marquetry works of singular beauty” and, in the 1692 edition, pointed out Boulle along with Cucci and Lefèvre as being the only three cabinetmakers worth mentioning in Paris.
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From 1672 on, Boulle assumed the title of “Cabinetmaker and Marquetry Craftsman in Ordinary to the King,” to which he often added “Chiseler.” He made, however, very little furniture for Louis XIV.
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In fact, Boulle worked for the buildings department of the king, producing, in particular, marquetry parquet flooring or ormolu elements and occasionally a few pieces of furniture.
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Les ébénistes français de Louis XIV à la Révolution, Alexandre Pradère.