The Wallace Collection in London boasts a spectacular variety of antique marquetry furniture , including a huge oak antique bookcase, made by Etienne Levasseur to a design by André-Charles Boulle, which stands in the Large Drawing Room with a number of other monumental Boulle masterpieces.
The ebony veneered bookcase features brass and turtleshell Boulle marquetry work, with gilt bronze masks, winged cherubs and the neo-classical mythological groupings of Apollo with Daphne and with Marsyas. However, it threatens to be eclipsed by another classical grouping with unique royal provenance: a 17th century bronze statue of Hercules fighting the bull god Acheloüs, made by 17th century Italian sculptors Ferdinando and Pietro Tacca. The piece is one of a set of large bronzes the Taccas – who were father and son – made of the trials of Hercules.
The sculpture is all the more special because of its royal connection; left in the French Royal Collections at the time of the Revolution, it was recorded in 1689 as being in the collection of the Grand Dauphin, Louis XV, son and heir of the Sun King, Louis XIV. A spellbinding depiction of the struggle between man and beast, the baroque mastery of the mythological bronze figures can be compared to the classical scenes that Boulle worked so carefully into his antique bookcases, wardrobes and other antique marquetry furniture. Cumbrian visitors can see more Boulle pieces – including an antique desk and matching antique cabinets – in the Billiard Room.
In Lancashire, antique marquetry furniture in the style of Boulle can be found at good antique dealers.
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